Parkinson’s Drug May Speed Brain Injury Recovery

Amantadine hydrochloride shown to accelerate improvement
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2012 10:42 AM CST

(Newser) – Good news for patients suffering from severe brain injuries: A drug used to treat Parkinson's disease could accelerate their recovery. The drug, amantadine hydrochloride, was tested against a placebo in a blind study of 184 patients. The group receiving the drug showed more improvement—not a lot more, but in a very short period of time—leading researchers to believe that the drug may be the first therapy able to be used as a standard to reliably help brain-injured patients. After the patients were taken off the drug, recovery slowed and the placebo group caught back up.

"The main finding is that on every single behavioral domain measured, we had a higher incidence of recovery in the amantadine group than in the placebo group," says one doctor. But experts warn that the results of the study were modest, meaning that the drug will not necessarily be able to wake someone who has been in an unresponsive state for a long time, the New York Times reports. Says another doctor, "This study puts the traumatic brain injury field on the first step of the ladder to developing scientific treatments. We’ve been trying to get there for a long time." Click for more good news for patients in vegetative states. (Read more Parkinson's disease stories.)

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