Posts Tagged anticonvulsants

[ARTICLE] Pharmacological management of long-term aggression secondary to traumatic brain injuries

Abstract
Aggression is common after traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in acute and chronic settings. However, there is limited guidance regarding its assessment and effective management. Whilst a number of pharmacological options are available for long term treatment, the evidence base is not of an adequate strength to support a unified practice. This article will explore the currently available guidelines and recommendations for treating chronic aggression after TBIs and evaluate the evidence for its pharmacological management.


Introduction

Aggression is a long term neurobehavioural sequelae of TBIs with incidences quoted from 11.5-33.7%.1 In TBI patients, aggressive behaviour tends to be impulsive rather than premeditated and can manifest as episodic dyscontrol syndrome, disinhibition or exacerbated premorbid antisocial traits.2 The underlying mechanisms of aggression are complex allowing numerous and diverse interventions targeting various pathways.

In acute settings, Lombard and Zafonte (2005) describe non-pharmacological measures to manage aggression including environmental alterations and ensuring minimal or non-contact restraints. Screening for systemic causes, optimising pain control and patients’ sleep-wake cycle are also advocated. In the event of failed non-pharmacological treatment, Lombard and Zafonte (2005) recommend that medication choice should be tailored to individuals; with side effect profiles taken into consideration.3

For chronic aggression, psychological therapies are used as a first line with pharmacological interventions trialled in later stages.4 Psychological therapy options include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), behavioural management utilising operant learning theory and contingency management. However, a review by Alderman (2013) concluded that further evidence using scientific methods is needed to analyse these approaches.5  Comparatively, there is a diverse body of literature addressing long term pharmacological treatment although quality among studies are varied. This article will focus on the aetiology for chronic post TBI aggression, current management guidelines and the evidence for long term pharmacological interventions.

Aetiology

Post TBI aggression has been associated with lesions affecting the prefrontal cortex – particularly the orbitofrontal and ventromedial areas – causing a loss of behavioural regulation. Disruption to inhibitory pathways between the prefrontal cortex and limbic system also results in limbic kindling and inappropriate emotional responses to negative stimuli thus facilitating aggressive behaviour.2 Associated neurotransmitter abnormalities include low cortical serotonin and impaired gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA)/ glutamate levels.6 Altered catecholamine and cholinergic levels are associated with cognitive impairment2 thus distorting information processing and predisposing patients to aggression.6 In TBI patients, underlying anxiety, affective disorders, seizures and frontal lobe dysfunction also increase susceptibility.10

Differentials for aggression

When identifying a cause for chronic aggressive behaviour, a patient’s previous experiences, comorbid psychiatric conditions and alcohol and/or substance abuse must be established with a collateral history.2,7  McAllister (2008) highlights the importance of determining pre-injury behaviour in order to exclude the possibility of symptoms being an exaggeration of pre-injury personality traits.8 Additionally, psychosocial factors must be deduced to identify possible triggers.2,7

Clinicians must be aware that aggression can be a presenting feature of other psychiatric disorders. Depression has a prevalence of 18.5% to 61% in post-TBI patients  and is linked with aggression due to their shared association with frontal lobe lesions and serotonin level imbalance.9 Other differentials include manic disorders (which can involve a more marked aggressive component if secondary to TBIs), anxiety disorders and alcohol and/or substance abuse. Personality and behavioural disorders such as affective lability, behavioural disinhibition and acquired antisocial behaviour should also be considered.8

Management guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) refers to the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) for rehabilitating patients with acquired brain injuries (ABIs). Psychological treatments advocated by SIGN include CBT, contingency management procedures, music therapy and comprehensive neurobehavioural rehabilitation (CNR).10 Family involvement appears to be associated with better outcomes2 and is also recommended.10

Of the studies quoted by SIGN, CNR was found to cause a positive effect in ABI patients in one systematic review although inconsistent results were obtained for the other three methods. Regarding pharmacological treatment, SIGN advises propranolol and pindolol as first line options.10

Pharmacological treatment

The aberrant neurotransmitter changes in the cortex and limbic areas as a result of TBIs2 provide targets for pharmacological therapy (as summarised in Table 1). Theoretically, cortical behavioural regulation can be enhanced by serotonergic agents and antagonists of dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission. Limbic hyperactivity can be dampened by the use of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) agonists, glutamatergic antagonists and anticholinergics.6

Impaired behavioural regulation

Antidepressants

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are indicated for their increase in dopamine and serotonin availability and the treatment of depression contributing to aggressive behaviour. In a trial conducted by Kant et al (1998), sertraline reduced aggression within one week of treatment although TBI severities were variable within the population.11 These results are mirrored in other trials presenting sertraline as a viable treatment option.12 Citalopram used in conjunction with carbamazepine successfully treated behavioural symptoms in a clinical trial of 22 patients conducted by Perino et al (2001)13 although the separate effects of both drugs are impossible to differentiate. A case study by Sloan et al (1992) found that fluoxetine improved emotional lability in one patient within a week.13

Tricyclic antidepressants have been shown to be useful for managing both post-traumatic and chronic aggression. Amitriptyline has reduced aggression with good tolerability despite its strong anticholinergic side effects in several studies and is suggested as the best option for treating behavioural disorders secondary to frontal lobe injuries without impairing cognition.13

Antipsychotics

There is a wide body of literature advocating antipsychotics for managing aggression due to their sedative effects.13 Nevertheless, the cognitive and extrapyramidal side effects of typical antipsychotics limit their value for chronic use. Comparatively, atypical antipsychotics have a milder side effect profile and are preferred although their cognitive impact in TBI patients is unclear.2 Furthermore, unlike older generations, atypical antipsychotics antagonise 5HT2 receptors and are therefore implicated in reduced aggression.9

Of the typical antipsychotics, chlorpromazine reduced explosiveness in one case study conducted by Sandel et al (1993). Various case studies also report haloperidol improving chronic agitation in TBI patients although significant side effects were encountered.13 Of the atypical antipsychotics the level of evidence is low. Quetiapine reduced aggression and irritability in seven patients in a trial conducted by Kim and Bijlani (2006).11 Olanzapine significantly reduced aggression within six months in a case study conducted by Umansky and Geller (2000). Clozapine was associated with varying levels of improvement in six case studies conducted by Michals et al (1993) however seizures were experienced in two patients.13

Overall, there is no reliable evidence advocating antipsychotic use for managing chronic post-TBI aggression. If antipsychotics are commenced for this purpose, it is suggested that their use is restricted to patients with psychosis.13

Beta blockers

Beta blockers are useful for cases where aggression is caused by underlying anxiety13 due to its inhibition of noradrenergic levels.9 A Cochrane review of four RCTs found that pindolol and propranolol reduced aggression within two to six weeks of starting treatment in ABI patients however no recommendations were made due to heterogeneity between samples, a small number of trials and small sample sizes.  The authors acknowledge that the trials involved high doses and so recommend caution when prescribing beta blockers for aggression.4

Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant indicated for its enhancement of dopamine and noradrenaline in the frontal lobe improving arousal and alertness.13 Mooney (1993) found in a single RCT that methylphenidate significantly improved anger scores in TBI patients.4 However other studies have yielded mixed results12,13 and no firm conclusion can be made.

Amantadine

Amantadine increases dopamine availability and acts on glutamatergic pathways. An advantage of its use is its non-sedating qualities however there is contradicting evidence for its efficacy.13 An RCT conducted by Schneider (1999) found no significant improvement4 however the trial was limited by a small sample size and large heterogeneity. Interestingly, studies of a lower level of evidence demonstrate favourable results.13 Due to this variability, its efficacy is still in question.

Buspirone

Buspirone – a serotonergic agonist licensed for treating anxiety13 – has also reduced aggression in several case studies2,12,14 warranting further research. Its side effects are amenable for use in TBIs although one disadvantage is its delayed onset.13

Hyperactive limbic drive

Anticonvulsants

The mood stabilising effects of anticonvulsants are mediated through their enhancement of GABA transmission.2 Carbamazepine has been demonstrated in studies to be effective for managing acute and chronic post- TBI aggression.12,13 Its side effects include impaired balance, sedation13 and cognitive impairment particularly in brain injured patients2 due to their heightened sensitivity. In a trial conducted by Mattes (2005), Oxcarbazepine reduced impulsive aggression however the number of TBI participants in the sample was unclear. Nine of the 48 participants also dropped out due to adverse effects11 suggesting more research is needed into its tolerability in TBI patients. Valproate has also been demonstrated to effectively manage behavioural and affective disorders13 with a milder cognitive impact compared to carbamazepine.2 Regarding other anticonvulsants, the evidence is of a lower standard. Pachet et al (2003) found that lamotrigine reduced aggression with good tolerability in one case study.11 Topiramate has been demonstrated to effectively treat manic symptoms but due to its side effects of psychosis and cognitive impairment,2 may be inappropriate for TBI patients. Case reports reference lithium to reduce post – TBI agitation however it may be unsuitable as a first line option due to its neurotoxicity.13

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are indicated for their anticonvulsive, anti-anxiety and sedative qualities facilitated by stimulation of the GABA receptor.13 There is limited literature on their chronic use in TBI patients due to their side effects of agitation, cognitive impairment and tolerance2 thus they are recommended to be more appropriate for cases of acute agitation or anxiety.11

Conclusion

There are many challenges in assessing and managing chronic aggression due to its complex aetiology. Previous literature presents a selection of pharmacological options however, their effect on TBI patients has not been confirmed resulting in limited guidance. The heterogeneity between samples also renders it impossible to predict treatment outcomes in the TBI population warranting the need for low doses, slow titration and frequent monitoring.13 A six-week trial period is advised by Fleminger et al (2006) to ascertain effects of treatment before trialling a new medication.4 Patient and family education regarding realistic treatment outcomes and side effects of treatments is also necessary to ensure treatment compliance.2 In future, a clarification of the underlying neurochemical changes is needed to identify further treatment targets. Additional larger scale RCTs are also needed to guide decision making and predict treatment outcomes. Table 2 offers a practical guide on medication choice in relation to aggressive behaviour in ABI.

References

  1. Tateno A, Jorge RE, Robinson RG. Clinical correlates of aggressive behaviour after traumatic brain injury. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2003;15(2):155-60.
  2. Kim E. Agitation, aggression and disinhibition syndromes after traumatic brain injury. NeuroRehabilitation 2002;17:297-310.
  3. Lombard LA, Zafonte RD. Agitation after traumatic brain injury: considerations and treatment options. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2005;84(10):797-812.
  4. Fleminger S, Greenwood RJ, Oliver DL. Pharmacological management for agitation and aggression in people with acquired brain injury. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;18(4):CD003299.
  5. Alderman N, Knight C, Brooks J. Rehabilitation Approaches to the Management of Aggressive Behaviour Disorders after Acquired Brain Injury. Brain Impairment. 2013;14(1):5-20.
  6. Siever LJ. Neurobiology of Aggression and Violence. Am J Psychiatry. 2008;165(4):429-42.
  7. McAllister TW. Neurobehavioral sequelae of traumatic brain injury: evaluation and management. World Psychiatry. 2008;7(1):3-10.
  8. Schwarzbold M, Diaz A, Martins ET, Rufino A, Amante LN, Thais ME et al. Psychiatric disorders and traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2008;4(4):797-816.
  9. Coccaro EF, Siever LJ. Pathophysiology and treatment of aggression. In: Davis KL, Charney D, Coyle JT, Nemeroff C, editors. Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress. 5th ed. Pennsylvania: Lipincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2002:1709-23.
  10. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Brain injury rehabilitation in adults. Edinburgh: SIGN; 2013. 68 p. Report no.:130.
  11. Luauté J, Plantier D, Wiart L, Tell L, the SOFMER group. Care management of the agitation or aggressiveness crisis in patients with TBI. Systematic review of the literature and practice recommendations. Ann Phys Rehabil Med 2016;59(1):58-67.
  12. Warden DL, Gordon B, McAllister TW, Silver JM, Barth JT, Bruns J, et al. Guidelines for the Pharmacological Treatment of Neurobehavioral Sequelae of Traumatic Brain Injury. J Neurotrauma 2006;23(10):1468-501.
  13. Levy M, Berson A, Cook T, Bollegala N, Seto E, Tursanski S, et al. Treatment of agitation following traumatic brain injury: A review of the literature. NeuroRehabilitation 2005;20(4):279-306.
  14. Chew E, Zafonte RD. Pharmacological management of neurobehavioral disorders following traumatic brain injury – a state-of-the-art review. J Rehabil Res Dev 2009;46(6):851-79.

Anum Bhatti is currently in her final year of training for her MBchB at Keele University. She is interested in pursuing psychiatry as a career choice.

 

Dr George El-Nimr, MBChB, MSc (Neuropsych), MRCPsych, MSc (Psych), MMedEd, is a Consultant Neuropsychiatrist and Academic Secretary of the Faculty of Neuropsychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

 

Correspondence to: Dr El-Nimr, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Neuropsychiatry Services, Bennett Centre, Richmond Terrace, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4ND. Tel: 01782 441614
Conflict of interest statement: None declared
Provenance and peer review: Submitted and externally reviewed
Date first submitted: 18/4/18
Date submitted after peer review: 21/9/18
Acceptance date: 15/5/19
To cite: Bhatti A, El-Nimr G. 
ACNR 2019;18(4);15-17
Published online: 1/8/19

via Pharmacological management of long-term aggression secondary to traumatic brain injuries | ACNR | Online Neurology Journal

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[Editorial] New Directions in the Management of Status Epilepticus – Neurology

Status Epilepticus (SE) is a neurological emergency and has high morbidity and mortality. The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) recently updated their definition to specify that, “SE is a condition resulting either from the failure of the mechanisms responsible for seizure termination or from the initiation of mechanisms, which lead to abnormally, prolonged seizures.” Such phenomena can lead to long-term neurological complications due to neuronal death, glia, neurological injury, aberrant neuroplasticity, oxidative stress and inflammation, and alteration of neuronal networks. Depending upon the type and duration of SE, these mechanisms are quite variable. Therefore, in response to the updated definition of SE, novel avenues of research are required to address the specified involvement of the underlying mechanisms and pathophysiology resulting in the development of and outcomes from SE.

Improving the basic science understanding of SE will facilitate essential clinical trials. One can envision such experiments to include device and compound-based technological interventions directed at aborting the seizure activity and improving clinical outcomes. Benzodiazepines remain one of the cornerstones of treatment, and studies are underway to study new delivery options, including intranasal, buccal, and intramuscular midazolam, in addition to rectal diazepam, with the goal of aborting the seizure activity outside the hospitals, as rapidly as possible. Approved and off-label anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin, phenobarbital, valproate, topiramate, levetiracetam, lacosamide, steroids, immunosuppressants, and neuroprotective compounds, have also shown some efficacy at treating SE. However, substantial challenges remain in optimally managing SE and minimizing the short- and long-term complications. Such difficulties can be overcome by innovative approaches targeting the underlying mechanisms of neuronal excitability, glia, neuronal death, neuroplasticity, oxidative stress, inflammation, and neuroinflammation.

The book comprises six original research articles and four reviews. Collectively, the materials provide insights into the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, treatment, recent advances and future directions in the management of SE, with the goal of providing an in-depth view and advancing the field to improve management of SE.

The book opens with an original research article by Kristin Phillips et al. which showed the role of hypothermia as a neuroprotective agent for preventing the development of calcium plateau against SE-induced delayed hippocampal injury. Hypothermia-mediated neuroprotection after pilocarpine-induced SE was evident from decreased Fluoro-Jade C+ neurons in the hippocampus. The second original article by Matos et al. described SE-induced changes in spontaneous locomotor activity and the temporal expression of genes related to circadian rhythms (Clock, Bmal1, Cry1, Cry2, Per1, Per2, and Per3) in the hippocampus at both early post-SE and chronic epilepsy phases. Authors propose that seizures can act as a non-photic cue and altered temporal expression of clock genes likely contributes to the pathogenesis of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. The third original article by Hutson et al. presented an interesting case study which showed evidence of brain dynamics resetting after successful anticonvulsant treatment following SE utilizing stereo encephalography (SEEG) data.

A review by Kirmani et al. conferred the current literature about autoimmune SE including therapeutic options and future directions. An original research article by Wyatt-Johnson et al. reported that SE-induced morphological alterations in microglia at different time-points and discussed the role of such changes on epileptogenesis. Another research article by Kortland et al. addressed the socioeconomic outcome and quality of life outcome in adults after status epilepticus in their original article. The authors conducted a multicenter, longitudinal, matched case-control analysis and concluded that relatively favorable outcomes seen in patients with refractory and super refractory SE as compared to non-refractory SE cases underlying the need of effective therapeutic choices.

An original research article by Bertoglio et al. compared the effects of two different protocols of kainate-induced SE in two strains of rats on neurodegeneration and chronic epilepsy development. The findings revealed that severe neuron loss after SE does not necessarily correlate with a higher seizure rate in the chronic phase after SE. In a review article, Castro et al. discussed the efficacy and promise of resveratrol, a phytoalexin found in the skin of red grapes, for easing SE-induced neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, aberrant neurogenesis and for restraining the evolution of SE-induced brain injury into a chronic epileptic state. Sharma et al. by reviewing methods of induction and characterization of behavioral SE and EEG correlates in mice and rats, highlighted the advantages of a repeated low dose of kainate protocol for minimizing the variability in the initial SE severity and reducing the mortality rate. The last original article by Lucchi et al. described the role peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma in the anticonvulsant properties of EP-80317, a Ghrelin receptor antagonist in pilocarpine-induced SE rat model and repeated 6 Hz corneal stimulation model in mice.

via Frontiers | Editorial: New Directions in the Management of Status Epilepticus | Neurology

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[ARTICLE] Pharmacological interventions for traumatic brain injury – Full Text 

Psychostimulants, antidepressants, and other agents may speed the recovery of patients suffering from the functional deficits that follow an insult to the brain.

Traumatic brain injury is common in North America and has dramatic and wide-ranging effects on survivors’ quality of life. Those who survive traumatic brain injury may experience anxiety, agitation, memory impairments, and behavioral changes. When managing the immediate and long-term consequences of such injuries, clinicians have many pharmacological options, including psychostimulants, antidepressants, antiparkinsonian agents, and anticonvulsants. These and other agents can play a role in managing the neuropsychiatric, neurocognitive, and neurobehavioral sequelae of injury to the brain.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is commonly defined as an insult to the brain from an external force that causes temporary or permanent impairment in functional, psychosocial, or physical abilities.1 It is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, and the leading cause of death and disability among young adults.

Common causes of TBI include motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and violence,[1] and it is recog­nized increasingly in war zone injury.[2] In the US, approximately 2 million people will sustain a TBI each year, one-quarter of whom will require hospitalization, leading to a conservative estimate of direct and indirect costs of $50 billion to $100 billion annually.[3]

With advances in the management of head trauma, an increasing number of patients are surviving with residual neurological impairments. A National Institute of Health panel estimates that 2.5 to 6.5 million Americans currently live with TBI-related disabilities.[4]

The effective treatment of TBI requires input from multiple disciplines and professions starting at the time of injury and continuing through the rehabilitation phase.

Despite the prevalence and cost of TBI-related disabilities there is a paucity of literature reviewing modern approaches to pharmacotherapy. There is, however, growing evidence that medications may speed recovery by enhancing some neurological functions without impact­ing others.

Pharmacotherapy is in­creasingly being used in both the subacute (less than 1 month post-TBI) and chronic (more than 1 month post-TBI) phases.

Disabilities arising from TBI that have a direct impact on functioning and rehabilitative potential can be broadly classified into four main categories: decreased level of consciousness (LOC), and neuropsychiatric, neurocognitive, and neurobehavioral sequelae.5-8 Decreased level of consciousness refers to a diverse range of clinical states including coma, vegetative states, akinetic mutism, and locked-in states.

Neuropsychiatric symp­toms may present as mood disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and personality changes characterized by disinhibition and egocentricity. Neurocognitive injuries vary, but most frequently involve impaired attention, memory, and executive functioning.

Neurobehavioral deficits distinct from neuropsychiatric sequelae may take the form of irritability, hyperexcitability, nervousness, disinhibition, poor impulse control, restlessness, and aggression, with aggression and agitation seen in as many as 30% of brain-injured patients.[5-8]

Depending on the location of in­jury, damage can occur to a variety of neurotransmitter networks critical to cognitive processes. Investigation has focused on the loss of dopaminergic neurons that regulate executive functioning, as well as deficits in norepinephrine and acetylcholine, which limit attention—a critical function for effective rehabilitation.[9]

Fortunately, a number of pharmacological interventions show promise in helping patients cope with these losses and deficits.

Although insufficient evidence exists to establish guidelines for optimal pharmocotherapy, medications may be used to support recovery. Examples are shown in the accompanying Table, which summarizes the pharmacological approaches discussed in more detail below.

When problematic TBI symptoms are identified, clinicians can use this information to determine pharmacological options and integrate them with nonpharmacological options such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, physiatry, and the patient’s support network.

Planning a pharmacological intervention strategy
The decision to use pharmacological intervention should be the result of multidisciplinary collaboration and made with the patient or his or her substitute decision maker. Goals of therapy should be clarified, and outcomes and adverse events should be reliably tracked, particularly so medications that are ineffective or cause adverse events can be discontinued and unnecessary polypharmacy can be avoided.

Selecting the most appropriate agent requires careful analysis of the neurological disabilities present, the nature of the underlying lesion, and the time elapsed since the injury.

Psychostimulants
Psychostimulants such as methylpheni­date are most commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that involves problems with executive functioning and can be characterized as similar to brain injury both in terms of symptoms and neurotransmitter aberrations.[10]

Although the complete mechanism of action of methylphenidate remains unknown, this agent is thought to bind dopamine transporters, thereby blocking reuptake and increasing extracellular dopamine levels, particularly in the frontal cortex.[11] It is also thought to increase norepinephrine and serotonin levels.

In the majority of studies, methylphenidate has been administered  twice daily, either at a fixed dose of 10 to 15 mg or at a dose of 0.3 mg/kg.[12-15]

In the acute phase after a TBI, methylphenidate-treated patients dem­onstrated better attention, concentration, and performance on motor memory tasks at 1 month, but these benefits did not persist at 3 months. Thus, it has been suggested that while methyl­phenidate may shorten recovery time, it does not change morbidity.[12]

In the chronic phase after a TBI, patients have reported improvements in mood, work performance, and alertness, with more limited evidence suggesting an improvement of fluency and selective attention.

The impact of methylphenidate on chronic attention is more ambiguous: one study suggests improvement in long-term processing speed and attention to tasks but not increased sustained attention or decreased susceptibility to distraction.[12]

Two separate studies have suggested methylphenidate is effective in the treatment of agitation and sei­zures,[16,17] while another demonstrated no neurobehavioral benefit.[18]

Despite the accumulation of controlled clinical trials, there is no consensus on the use of stimulants in treating TBI-induced impairments in arousal and motor activity.

It should be noted that one recent review concluded “at present there is insufficient evidence to support routine use of methylphenidate or other amphetamines to promote recovery from TBI,”[19] while another review noted that at least 10 clinical trials have demonstrated a role for methylpheni­date in both adult and pediatric brain injury patients suffering from neurocognitive deficits, particularly in attention, memory, cognitive processing, and speech.[20]

Methylphenidate has a quick onset of action and relatively benign side effect profile, and we believe it to be useful in both the acute and chronic phase of TBI.

Antidepressants
Despite potentially severe consequenc­es, post-TBI psychiatric sequelae are underdiagnosed and undertreated. Fortunately, current evidence suggests that antidepressants can be used to manage both neuropsychiatric and additional neurological deficits persisting from brain injury.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhi­bitors (SSRIs) have been found useful in treating behavioral syndromes in TBI patients, particularly in the subacute stages of recovery[21] but also in chronic settings.

The majority of studies suggest that SSRIs improve neurobehavioral, neurocognitive, and neuropsychiatric deficits, specifically agitation, depression, psychomotor retardation, and recent memory loss; however, most data originates from nonrandomized trials.

Sertraline administered at an average dose of 100 mg daily for 8 weeks has been found to be beneficial for agitation, depressed mood, and deficits in psychomotor speed and recent memory; shorter treatment durations have demonstrated no benefit.[21]

Similarly, 60 mg daily of fluoxetine for 3 months was shown to be effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder caused by brain injury.[22] Finally, paroxetine or citalopram, at a dose of 10 to 40 mg daily, was shown by another study to be equally effective in the treatment of pathological crying.[23] None of the re­viewed studies addressed neurocognitive deficits.

The highest concentration of serotonergic and adrenergic fibres is located near the frontal lobes, the most common site of traumatic contusion.[24]

Consequently, these fibres are commonly injured in TBI, suggesting that newer antidepressants with effects on both norepinephrine and serotonin, such as mirtazapine and venlafaxine, may also be effective in the treatment of TBI sequelae; however, clinical data with these agents in TBI is lacking.

Similarly, bupropion increases both dopamine and norepinephrine levels and is a weak inhibitor of serotonin reuptake. At 150 mg daily, this agent has been useful in treating restlessness.[25]

Antiparkinsonian drugs
The antiparkinsonian drugs amantadine, bromocriptine, and levodopa combined with carbidopa (e.g., Sine­met) have varied mechanisms of action, but all ultimately serve to increase dopamine levels in the brain.

Amantadine acts presynaptically to enhance dopamine release or inhibit its reuptake, and can act postsynaptically to increase the number, or alter the configuration of, dopamine re­ceptors.[26] It is also a noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist and may provide protection against possible glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity in the context of TBI.[27]

Bromocriptine is a dopamine receptor agonist affecting primarily D2 receptors and to a lesser extent D1 receptors.[28] The use of levodopa and carbidopa in combination directly increases dopamine levels: levodopa becomes dopamine once de­carboxylated, while carbidopa inhibits L-amino decarboxylase, allowing levodopa to reach the central nervous system.[28]

Multiple studies of amantadine at a dose of 100 to 300 mg daily have suggested its effectiveness in both the acute and chronic care phases after TBI, particularly in diffuse, frontal, or right-sided brain injury.

Currently, the evidence suggests neurocognitive or neurobehavioral deficits, particularly cognition difficulties and agitation, are primary indications for amantadine use.[26,29,30]

Amantadine-treated patients demonstrated improvements in motivation; decreased level of apathy; increased attention, concentration, and alertness; improved executive functioning; decreased processing time; reduced agitation, distractibility, fatigue, aggression, and anxiety.

In addition, patients treated with amantadine demonstrated changes in outcome LOC, specifically improved arousal and LOC as measured by the Glasgow Coma Scale. Interestingly, one study also suggested decreased mortality.[31] To date, no study has shown an improvement in memory.

Three case reports using 5 to 45 mg of bromocriptine daily,[32] and one study using a combination of 100 mg of bromocriptine with 100 mg of ephedrine,[33] showed improvement in akinetic mutism, while another study using 5 mg of bromocriptine combined with sensory stimulation led to improvements in patients with vegetative or minimal consciousness.[34]

The evidence is similarly limited for levidopa and carbidopa medications where nonrandomized studies suggest that they might be useful in the chronic phase of TBI with diffuse injury and persistent vegetative state.[35]

Combining agents has also been tried in one study that found improvements in neuropsychiatric deficits with the daily administration of 25 mg/200 mg of levodopa/carbidopa three times daily, 250 mg of amantadine, and 5 mg of bromocriptine twice daily.[36]

Anticonvulsants
Anticonvulsants have been used with varying results for treating symptoms of TBI. Valproic acid, for example, enhances inhibitory control mediated by the neurotransmitter GABA, thereby promoting general central nervous system stabilization, but findings thus far have been mixed.

Investigations utilizing 600 to 2250 mg of valproic acid daily (resulting in serum levels of 40 to 100 µg/mL), have demonstrated positive neurocognitive effects, in­cluding improved recent memory and problem-solving, as well as ameliorating neuropsychiatric and neuro­behavioral symptoms such as depression, mania, destructive and aggressive behavior, restlessness, disinhibition, impulsivity, lability, and alertness.[37-41]

Conversely, one control­led trial found valproic acid negatively impacted decision-making speed, and another suggested an increased mortality rate with valproic acid use.[37-41]

Other agents
Modafinil is a vigilance-promoting drug commonly used to treat narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia, illnesses that can present with symptoms similar to those seen in TBI: excessive daytime sleepiness, inattention, and decreased ability to perform social activities.

The precise mechanism of action remains unknown, although it is believed that modafinil can inhibit GABA or increase glutamate levels in the nondopaminergic anterior hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdale.[42,43]

Two studies that investigated the role of modafinil in chronic TBI showed an improvement in neurocognitive deficits, specifically memory and attention, as well as improving daytime somnolence at doses between 100 and 400 mg.[44,45]

Four randomized control trials examining the use of beta-blockers, specifically propranolol and pindolol, have demonstrated beneficial effects on neurobehavioral symptoms of ag­gression and agitation in both the chronic and subacute phase. This class of drugs deserves further attention for the management of both neuropsychiatric and neurobehavioral sequelae of TBI.[46]

Neuroleptics are being used in­creasingly in the setting of delirium, and one might consider using them in an attempt to allow the brain to recalibrate neurotransmitter levels. However, it should be noted that there is some evidence that dopamine blockade may negatively affect recovery.[47,48]

There are also a number of animal studies examining drugs that have the potential to adversely affect brain recovery following TBI. These studies typically use a stroke model, so generalizing to TBI may not be possible.

Nevertheless, the evidence currently does not support the use of neuro­leptics, benzodiazepines, phen­y­toin, prazosin, trazodone, and similar agents because of their potential adverse effect on recovery, presumably through the impacts they have on neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, or GABA.[49-51]

Preliminary evidence suggests cho­linesterase inhibitors such as don­epezil may improve long-term cognitive outcomes, particularly in domains such as memory and attention when administered early, and further in­vestigation with these agents is also warranted.[52,53]

Finally, antiandrogenic medications, such as estrogen and medroxyprogesterone, may have a role to play in reducing inappropriate sexual be­havior in patients with TBI. In a case study and one small trial, these drugs demonstrated effectiveness.[54]

Summary
The nature of TBI sequelae, whether psychiatric, cognitive, or behavioral, is poorly understood. Likewise, the use of pharmacological interventions to improve symptoms, function, and outcome is still under development.

There are, however, a number of agents that inspire optimism. When treating neurological deficits medically, there is evidence to support the tailored use of these agents for particular TBI clinical scenarios. The timing and nature of symptoms, along with wheth­er agents are administered in the acute or chronic phase after TBI, are all relevant factors for determining proper use.

With insufficient evidence to establish guidelines for optimal treatment, care must be taken when choosing pharmacological interventions for TBI.

If the decision is made to use medications to promote TBI recovery or treat its attendant disabilities, clinicians should thoroughly document the goals of pharmacotherapy and closely monitor for side effects. Future studies will undoubtedly add to the clinician’s armamentarium for the care of TBI patients.

Competing interests
None declared.


ReferencesTop

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Source: Pharmacological interventions for traumatic brain injury | BC Medical Journal

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[WEB DITE] Music And Epilepsy, Part 2 – Music As Therapy

Approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy have a drug-resistant form of the disease. But even in cases where the pharmacological treatment is effective, it is common for side-effects of anti-epileptic drugs to arise, including skin rashes, dizziness, liver damage, psychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, and pregnancy-associated complications.

Surgery has a good rate of success in achieving long-term remission of epilepsy symptoms, but the number of patients undergoing surgery still represents a small percentage of patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Therefore, alternative, non-pharmacological treatment options are sought after. Music therapy is one of them.

The “Mozart effect”

The therapeutic potential of music has been widely investigated in cognitive neuroscience. But in the specific case of epilepsy, this use of music as therapy is particularly fascinating due its dual effect.

As seen in Part 1 of the music and epilepsy diptych, on the one hand, music can induce seizures, in what is known as musicogenic epilepsy, but on the other hand, it may have a beneficial outcome, at least in some patients and with some specific melodies.

This ability of music in reducing neuronal discharges and in reducing seizures has been known for decades. The first studies used mainly pure tones or loud music stimulation to shorten the duration of seizures. But in 1998, Hughes and colleagues reported for the first time a therapeutic effect of Mozart’s music on patients with epilepsy; they demonstrated that Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K.448) exerted an acute effect on the amount of epileptic activity, both during and between seizures. They called it the “Mozart effect”.

Subsequently, various trials or case reports started using Mozart’s K.448 to reduce seizures, initially only in chronic epilepsy conditions, but recently also for acute epilepsy.

Beneficial effects of Mozart’s music have been reported even for patients who had already tried more than two types of antiepileptic drugs with no success; while drugs had failed to control their seizures, Mozart was able to significantly reduce or even completely abolish epileptic discharges.

The anti-epileptic effect of Mozart’s music has also been supported by animal studies, where it has been shown to reduce the frequency of spontaneous seizures in rats.

These studies were reviewed in a meta-analysis by Dastgheib and colleagues published in 2014 summarizing the effects of Mozart’s music on epilepsy. The authors found that 84% of the examined patients exhibited significantly reduced epileptic discharges following Mozart music therapy. Still, there have been some accounts of the opposite effect; in some cases, despite being a clear minority, Mozart’s music actually led to an increase in seizures.

But the positive effect of Mozart does not appear to be exclusive to that particular sonata. For example, recent studies have found that, in addition to Mozart’s K.448, also Mozart’s K.545 could reduce epileptic discharges.

The mechanisms of music’s effects

The mechanisms by which Mozart may act as an anticonvulsant are unknown. This effect has been attributed to fundamental elements of music such as its rhythmic structure and its lower harmonics. These characteristics may somehow activate neuronal networks by evoking neuronal patterns with anticonvulsant properties.

Continue —> Music And Epilepsy, Part 2 – Music As Therapy | Brain Blogger

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[ARTICLE] Post-traumatic epilepsy: current and emerging treatment options – Full Text

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to many undesired problems and complications, including immediate and long-term seizures/epilepsy, changes in mood, behavioral, and personality problems, cognitive and motor deficits, movement disorders, and sleep problems.

Clinicians involved in the treatment of patients with acute TBI need to be aware of a number of issues, including the incidence and prevalence of early seizures and post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE), comorbidities associated with seizures and anticonvulsant therapies, and factors that can contribute to their emergence.

While strong scientific evidence for early seizure prevention in TBI is available for phenytoin (PHT), other antiepileptic medications, eg, levetiracetam (LEV), are also being utilized in clinical settings. The use of PHT has its drawbacks, including cognitive side effects and effects on function recovery. Rates of recovery after TBI are expected to plateau after a certain period of time. Nevertheless, some patients continue to improve while others deteriorate without any clear contributing factors.

Thus, one must ask, ‘Are there any actions that can be taken to decrease the chance of post-traumatic seizures and epilepsy while minimizing potential short- and long-term effects of anticonvulsants?’ While the answer is ‘probably,’ more evidence is needed to replace PHT with LEV on a permanent basis. Some have proposed studies to address this issue, while others look toward different options, including other anticonvulsants (eg, perampanel or other AMPA antagonists), or less established treatments (eg, ketamine). In this review, we focus on a comparison of the use of PHT versus LEV in the acute TBI setting and summarize the clinical aspects of seizure prevention in humans with appropriate, but general, references to the animal literature.

Full Text–> Post-traumatic epilepsy: current and emerging treatment options.

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