The New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and Health Day are all reporting the results of a NIDRR-funded study showing that a drug used to treat Parkinson disease can help in recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI). The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Patients with severe brain injuries in vegetative or minimally conscious states participated in this blinded study. Half were given amantadine hydrochloride, half were given a placebo. Because the study was blinded, therapists and medical staff who provided daily care and tracked progress did not know who was given the drug. After four weeks of the drug, participants’ progress was rated on a standard scale. Those given the drug showed more improvement than those given the placebo. The improvement wasn’t dramatically different: 2 scale points. But they improved in a short period of time. When taken off the amantadine, recovery slowed.
The NY Times article calls this study a “turning point in the understanding and treatment of people with severe traumatic brain injuries.” We encourage you to read these articles and share them with your family, friends, and colleagues who have been affected by TBI. We also direct you to these excellent resources to understand more about TBI, disorders of consciousness, and rehabilitation and recovery.