Posts Tagged pharmacological

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

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.[…]

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

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[ARTICLE] Paired Associative Stimulation as a Tool to Assess Plasticity Enhancers in Chronic Stroke – Full Text

Background and Purpose: The potential for adaptive plasticity in the post-stroke brain is difficult to estimate, as is the demonstration of central nervous system (CNS) target engagement of drugs that show promise in facilitating stroke recovery. We set out to determine if paired associative stimulation (PAS) can be used (a) as an assay of CNS plasticity in patients with chronic stroke, and (b) to demonstrate CNS engagement by memantine, a drug which has potential plasticity-modulating effects for use in motor recovery following stroke.

Methods: We examined the effect of PAS in fourteen participants with chronic hemiparetic stroke at five time-points in a within-subjects repeated measures design study: baseline off-drug, and following a week of orally administered memantine at doses of 5, 10, 15, and 20 mg, comprising a total of seventy sessions. Each week, MEP amplitude pre and post-PAS was assessed in the contralesional hemisphere as a marker of enhanced or diminished plasticity. Strength and dexterity were recorded each week to monitor motor-specific clinical status across the study period.

Results: We found that MEP amplitude was significantly larger after PAS in baseline sessions off-drug, and responsiveness to PAS in these sessions was associated with increased clinical severity. There was no observed increase in MEP amplitude after PAS with memantine at any dose. Motor threshold (MT), strength, and dexterity remained unchanged during the study.

Conclusion: Paired associative stimulation successfully induced corticospinal excitability enhancement in chronic stroke subjects at the group level. However, this response did not occur in all participants, and was associated with increased clinical severity. This could be an important way to stratify patients for future PAS-drug studies. PAS was suppressed by memantine at all doses, regardless of responsiveness to PAS off-drug, indicating CNS engagement.

Introduction

The capacity of the brain to make structural, physiological, and genetic adaptations following stroke, otherwise known as plasticity, is likely to be critical for improving sensorimotor impairments and functional activities. Promotion of adaptive plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS) leading to sustained functional improvement is of paramount importance, given the personal suffering and cost associated with post-stroke disability (Ma et al., 2014). In addition to rehabilitation therapies to retrain degraded motor skills, animal and human studies have tried to augment recovery with neuropharmacologic interventions. Unfortunately, few if any have had a notable effect in patients or have come into routine use (Martinsson et al., 2007Chollet et al., 2011Cramer, 2015Simpson et al., 2015). Methods to screen drugs based on their presumed mechanism of action on plasticity in human motor systems could speed translation to patients. However, there is currently no accepted method in stroke patients for evaluating the potential effectiveness or individual responsiveness to putative “plasticity enhancing” drugs in an efficient, low-cost, cross-sectional manner, in order to establish target engagement in humans and to avoid the extensive time and cost of protracted clinical trials.

Paired associative stimulation (PAS) is a safe, painless, and non-invasive technique known to result in short-term modulation of corticospinal excitability in the adult human motor system, lasting ∼90 min (Stefan et al., 2000Wolters et al., 2003). Post-PAS excitability enhancement has been considered an LTP-like response thought to relate to transient changes in synaptic efficacy in the glutamatergic system at the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, since both human NMDA receptor deficiency (Volz et al., 2016) and pharmacological manipulation with dextromethorphan (Stefan et al., 2002) can block the effect. While PAS has been explored as a potential therapeutic intervention in patients with residual motor deficits after stroke (Jayaram and Stinear, 2008Castel-Lacanal et al., 2009), it has not previously been investigated for its potential use as an assay of motor system plasticity in this context. Prior studies have suggested that motor practice and PAS share the same neuronal substrates, modulating LTP and LTD-like plasticity in the human motor system (Ziemann et al., 2004Jung and Ziemann, 2009); therefore, as an established non-invasive human neuromodulation method (Suppa et al., 2017), we reasoned that PAS would be a suitable assay in the present study to examine the effect of a drug on motor system plasticity.

Here, we examine the effect of memantine, a drug used for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, on the PAS response in patients with chronic stroke. Memantine is described pharmacologically as a low affinity, voltage dependent, non-competitive, NMDA antagonist (Rogawski and Wenk, 2003). At high concentrations, like other NMDA-R antagonists, it can inhibit synaptic plasticity. At lower, clinically relevant concentrations, memantine can, under some circumstances, promote synaptic plasticity by selectively inhibiting extra-synaptic glutamate receptor activity while sparing normal synaptic transmission, and hence may have clinical utility for rehabilitation (Xia et al., 2010). Interest in specifically using the drug for its interaction with stroke pathophysiology stems from animal models of both prevention (Trotman et al., 2015), in which pre-conditioning reduced infarct size, as well as for functional recovery, in which chronic oral administration starting >2 h post-stroke resulted in improved function through a non-neuroprotective mechanism (López-Valdés et al., 2014). In humans, memantine taken over multiple days has been used to demonstrate that the NMDA receptor is implicated in specific transcranial magnetic paired-pulse measures (Schwenkreis et al., 1999), and short-term training-induced motor map reorganization (Schwenkreis et al., 2005). In studies of neuromodulation, memantine blocked the facilitatory effect of intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) (Huang et al., 2007). Similarly, LTP-like plasticity induced by associative pairing of painful laser stimuli and TMS over primary motor cortex (M1) can also be blocked by memantine (Suppa et al., 2013). The effects of memantine on the PAS response have not yet been demonstrated, including examination of potential dose-response effects, which would be important for the potential clinical application of memantine for stroke recovery.

In our study, we set out to determine whether PAS might be a useful tool to probe the potential for plasticity after stroke in persons with chronic hemiparesis and apply PAS as an assay to look at drug effects on motor system plasticity using memantine. We hypothesized that (a) PAS would enhance corticospinal excitability in the contralesional hemisphere of stroke patients, and that (b) since PAS-induced plasticity is thought to involve a short-term change in glutamatergic synaptic efficacy, memantine would have a dose-dependent effect on PAS response. We predicted that at low doses, memantine would enhance PAS-induced plasticity through selective blockade of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, whereas higher doses would inhibit PAS-induced plasticity.[…]

 

Continue —> Frontiers | Paired Associative Stimulation as a Tool to Assess Plasticity Enhancers in Chronic Stroke | Neuroscience

Figure 1. Axial MR/CT images for individual patients illustrating the stroke lesion. Images are displayed in radiological convention. Images are labeled by participant number.

 

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[Abstract] Pharmacological interventions and rehabilitation approach for enhancing brain self-repair and stroke recovery

Abstract

Neuroplasticity is a natural process occurring in the brain for entire life. Stroke is the leading cause of long term disability and huge medical and financial problem throughout the world. Research conducted over the past decade focused mainly on neuroprotection in the acute phase of stroke while very little studies targets chronic stage. Recovery after stroke depends on the ability of our brain to reestablish structural and functional organization of neurovascular networks. Combining adjuvant therapies and drugs may enhance the repair processes and restore impaired brain functions. Currently, there are some drugs and rehabilitative strategies that can facilitate brain repair and improve clinical effect even years after stroke onset. Moreover, some of compounds such as citicoline, fluoxetine, niacin, levodopa etc. are already in clinical use or are being trial in clinical issues. Many studies testing also cell therapies, in our review we will focused on studies where cells have been implemented at the early stage of stroke. Next, we discuss pharmaceutical interventions. In this section selected methods of cognitive, behavioral and physical rehabilitation as well as adjuvant interventions for neuroprotection including non invasive brain stimulation and extremely low frequency electromagnetic field. The modern rehabilitation represents new model of physical interventions with limited therapeutic window up to six months after stroke. However, last studies suggest, that time window for stroke recovery is much longer than previous thought. This review attempts to present the progress in neuroprotective strategies, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological that can stimulate the endogenous neuroplasticity in post stroke patients.

 

via Pharmacological interventions and rehabilitation approach for enhancing brain self-repair and stroke recovery | Bentham Science

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[TED Talk] Rebecca Brachman: A new class of drug that could prevent depression and PTSD – TED Talk

Current treatments for depression and PTSD only suppress symptoms, if they work at all. What if we could prevent these diseases from developing altogether? Neuroscientist and TED Fellow Rebecca Brachman shares the story of her team’s accidental discovery of a new class of drug that, for the first time ever, could prevent the negative effects of stress — and boost a person’s ability to recover and grow. Learn how these resilience-enhancing drugs could change the way we treat mental illness.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

via Rebecca Brachman: A new class of drug that could prevent depression and PTSD | TED Talk

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[ARTICLE] SUPPORTIVE PRINCIPLES IN THE PHARMACOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT OF THE PATIENTS WITH EPILEPSY

Abstract

Background: Pharmacological management of patients with epilepsy is still a very challenging approach for the best outcome of these patients. When considering the appropriate treatment choice for patients it is necessary to take into account several factors that can influence the effectiveness and quality of life. Cancelling or changing treatment suddenly can lead to uncontrolled seizures. After a short period without seizures, many patients are tempted to abandon treatment. Cessation of treatment can be discussed after a seizure-free period for at least two years. Treatment should be discontinued gradually by reducing the dosage and constant supervision of the physician. This paper analyses briefly the general pharmacological and treatment methods in several forms of adult epilepsy.

Conclusions: Management of epilepsy means more than observing the medication prescribed by the specialist. It is also important for the patient to maintain his general health status, monitor the symptoms of epilepsy and response to treatment and take care of his safety. Involvement in the management of one’s own affection can help the patient to control his condition and to continue his routine in usual manner. The objective of antiepileptic treatment is to reduce epileptic seizures to zero without intolerable side effects. New treatments should focus not only on reducing the frequency and intensity of seizures but also improving the quality of life of patients. Key words: patient, epilepsy, therapy and dynamics.

Introduction

The analysis of the specialized literature reveals that many issues regarding differential treatment of epilepsy require subsequent clarification. As far as we are concerned, we have designed and developed therapeutic recommendations, in our opinion, effective, supporting the results of treating epilepsy in its various stages, from premonition to status variants. In this context, the main element in the choice of preparations, besides the trivial clinical signs, was the use of sub-curative monitoring data, including repeated EEG examinations, which fixed the subjective response of patients. Choosing the best possible medicine or an optimal combination of medicines is sometimes difficult. The perfect antiepileptic should be long, nonsedative, well tolerated, very active in various types of convulsive and with non-harmful effects on vital organs and functions. In addition, it must be effective in various forms of active epilepsy and in treating underlying epileptic seizures and capable of restoring the electroencephalogram between seizures to its normal form [5; 9; 10; 18; 23; 24; 27; 31; 38; 40; 41; 43].

It is still debatable whether such a drug will ever be discovered, and especially one that will control all types of epilepsy. The thorough study of pharmacological properties allows us to appreciate which of the existing antiepileptics will meet the current requirements of our patients under study. Due to the fact that patients differ considerably after clinical response to known anticonvulsants and the possibilities of treatment with associated drugs are insufficiently and superficially researched, testing of more efficient substances including new combinations continues. Due to the modern medication, which benefits from a wide and sufficiently efficient range of specific drugs, a large proportion of the recurrent and the disabling sequelae of the disease can be prevented. The adverse effects of drugs are low, so many of the past patients who have been labelled for life by this suffering can now live a productive life. The actual ability to control this disease effectively prevents more of its severe consequences [12; 13; 15; 22; 29; 46; 50].

General principles of pharmacotherapy of epilepsies

In the treatment of psychiatric disorders of our patients with epilepsy we have taken into account the following principles:

Appropriate selection of the remedy, its dosing, routes of administration and possible side effects. And we took into account the following:

  1. The syndrome of psychic state – the gradual expression of the disorders, the relationship between productive and negative alterations and the type of impairment of psychic processes.
  2. The dynamic characteristics of the psychic state – the duration of the disturbances, the changes in the presence of paroxysmal manifestations.
  3. The somatic and neurological condition of the patient with epilepsy. This parameter is important in the context

of the evidence of side effects of favorable and unfavorable preparations. Somatic mood dictates and the route of administration of drugs: parenteral in gastrointestinal disorders, endonasal or transorbital (by electrophoresis) when parenteral administration is not preferred.

Individual features of the patient with epilepsy (age, weight, response to anticonvulsant therapy and others) are also considered. It is often forgotten that lower doses are indicated for children and older people as the exchange of substances in them is slow and standard dose treatment leads to accumulation of preparations and adverse effects [6; 7; 14; 19].

We recommend the gradual increase of the doses, with the preference of the minimal effective doses of the drugs. All the above-described drugs are initially indicated at minimal doses, then the dose gradually increases until the first positive effects are displayed, the subsequent increase of the doses is made after a certain period of time to stabilize the positive effect.

Complex treatment – it is necessary to prescribe unimoment of anticonvulsant remedies from different classes and groups in combination with non-medication methods. Polipharmacologic treatment has certain priorities in comparison with monotherapy because it addresses different links of the pathological process. It is important to avoid the multidimensional effects of many drugs, the doubling of the mechanisms of action and the predilection of some and the same psychological processes.

Continuous therapy. The treatment of productive disorders is done until their complete jugulation (sometimes with the purpose of preventing relapse and longer), of the deficient ones by alternating the cures, with gradual modifications [28; 30; 34; 39; 42].

Principles of medication of psychosomatic syndromes in epilepsy

Criteria for the effectiveness of psychotropic remedies administered in epilepsy are those of improving the knowledge and behavioral processes. More differentiated treatment is based on syndrome of mental disorders.

  1. Deficient disorder (transient dementia, mental-mental diminution, etc.) The treatment is continuously practiced, alternating the belts. It is rational to indicate the preparations of different subgroups. The following criteria are taken into consideration when drawing up the treatment scheme:

a) Main mechanism of action: nootrop, general metabolism, cerebrovascular or actoprotector;

b) Predominant action on mediating processes: GABA (piracetam, fenibut, gamma-aminobutyric acid); cholin-ergic (gliatiline); dopaminergic (nakom); and combined (meclofenoxate, glycine, glutamic acid);

c) With predominant action on the function of the encephalic structures: the cerebral and subcortical (nakom), on the left hemisphere (gliatilline); on the right hemisphere (cortexil);

d) With action on psychomotor activity: major stimulation (piracetam, nakom vinpocetine), mean enhancement (aminalone, gamma-aminobutyric acid, cerebrolizine, nicergoline, tanakan), diminishment (fenibut, glycine, ci-narizine);

e) Route of administration: parenteral, internal, endo-nasal, transorbital (by electrophoresis), mixed. Duration of treatment: from 7 days to 4 months (nakom, fenibut). On the basis of this therapy it is also possible to indicate prophylactic doses of anticonvulsants.

  1. For different types of excitation (chaotic, twilight, delusional, manic, psychopathic, etc.) the support treatment are the sedative neuroleptics. Major tranquilizers, barbiturates and other anticonvulsants, may also be indicated sedative antidepressants.
  • Hallucinatory delusions. More rational are antipsy-chotic neuroleptics. In the case of neuroleptic syndrome with caution are added corrective remedies. That adjuvant preparations use daytime tranquilizers, in depressive or anxious states are used antidepressants.
  • Emotional productive disruptions. In the states of excitation are indicated predominantly sedative neuroleptics and tranquilizers, antidepressants – in depression, tranquilizers and antiepileptics – in dysphoria, in anxiety states -neuroleptics and tranquilizers.

  • Productive districts nearby. Psychoparticular depressions are typically treated with “inor” euroleptics, preferably “behavioral correctors” or low doses of risperidone and tranquilizers; in neurotic manifestations (asthenia, obsessions, hysteria, hypocondria) are used tranquilizers and low doses of antidepressants [1; 2; 3; 4; 8; 11; 25; 26].
    КиберЛенинка: https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/supportive-principles-in-the-pharmacological-management-of-the-patients-with-epilepsy

  • […]

    Continue —> SUPPORTIVE PRINCIPLES IN THE PHARMACOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT OF THE PATIENTS WITH EPILEPSY – тема научной статьи по медицине и здравоохранению читайте бесплатно текст научно-исследовательской работы в электронной библиотеке КиберЛенинка

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    [WEB SITE] Can Ritalin Help Mitigate Brain Injury Symptoms?

     Question

    My 54-year-old husband sustained a TBI when he fell asleep at the wheel while driving and hit a tree. The doctors say that he damaged all four parts of his brain. It’s been more than one and a half years and he’s still totally dependent on me to take care of him. Do you think Ritalin would help stimulate his brain?

    Answer

    Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is one of the commonly used brain stimulants in people who have suffered traumatic brain injury. It increases chemicals in the brain that have a stimulating effect (norepinephrine and dopamine).

    After traumatic brain injury, doctors commonly prescribe Ritalin for low arousal or initiation, poor attention and concentration, depression, and slow processing speed. There is research that shows that Ritalin may speed recovery early after moderate to severe TBI. There is also research showing that Ritalin increases mental processing speed after TBI, which can improve memory function in some people.

    All medications have side effects and the risks need to be weighed against possible benefits. One of the good things about the standard formulation of Ritalin is that it is short acting so if side effects occur they wear off in a few hours. Some potential side effects include keeping you up at night (if taken too close to bedtime), decreased appetite, headache, irritability, and paranoia.

    In your husband’s case, his doctor needs to look at why he is so dependent. If arousalattention, and/or initiation are playing a significant role, a stimulant can be considered. Careful monitoring for effects and/or side effects is needed when starting this medication and it should only be done by a doctor who has experience in caring for people with traumatic brain injury. Ritalin and most stimulants are controlled substances and will require frequent visits to the doctor for prescriptions.

    Source: Can Ritalin Help Mitigate Brain Injury Symptoms?

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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.


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

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    [Poster] Effectiveness of Phenytoin and Levetiracetam for Seizure Prophylaxis Among a Traumatic Brain Injury Population: A Systematic Review

    To examine the effectiveness of levetiracetam and phenytoin for seizure prophylaxis following brain injury.

    Source: Effectiveness of Phenytoin and Levetiracetam for Seizure Prophylaxis Among a Traumatic Brain Injury Population: A Systematic Review – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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    [Abstract] Cannabis and other illicit drug use in epilepsy patients – Hamerle – 2013 – European Journal of Neurology.

    Abstract

    Background and purpose

    This study aimed to assess the prevalence of illicit drug use among epilepsy patients and its effects on the disease.

    Methods

    We systematically interviewed epilepsy outpatients at a tertiary epilepsy clinic. Predictors for active cannabis use were analysed with a logistic regression model.

    Results

    Overall, 310 subjects were enrolled; 63 (20.3%) reported consuming cannabis after epilepsy was diagnosed, and 16 (5.2%) used other illicit drugs. Active cannabis use was predicted by sex (male) [odds ratio (OR) 5.342, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.416–20.153] and age (OR 0.956, 95% CI 0.919–0.994). Cannabis consumption mostly did not affect epilepsy (84.1%). Seizure worsening was observed with frequent illicit (non-cannabis) drug use in 80% of cases.

    Conclusions

    Cannabis use does not seem to affect epilepsy; however, frequent use of other drugs increases seizure risk.

    Source: Cannabis and other illicit drug use in epilepsy patients – Hamerle – 2013 – European Journal of Neurology – Wiley Online Library

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    [ARTICLE] Fewer specialists support using medical marijuana and CBD in treating epilepsy patients compared with other medical professionals and patients: Result of Epilepsia’s survey – Full Text

    EpilepsiaSummary

    Objective

    From May 20 to September 1 2014, Epilepsia conducted an online survey seeking opinions about the use of medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) for people with epilepsy. This study reports the findings of that poll.

    Methods

    The survey consisted of eight questions. Four questions asked if there were sufficient safety and efficacy data, whether responders would advise trying medical marijuana in cases of severe refractory epilepsy, and if pharmacologic grade compounds containing CBD should be available. Four questions addressed occupation, geographic region of residence, if responders had read the paper, and if they were International League Against Epilepsy/International Bureau for Epilepsy (ILAE/IBE) members.

    Results

    Of 776 who started or completed the survey, 58% were patients from North America, and 22% were epileptologists and general neurologists from Europe and North America. A minority of epileptologists and general neurologists said that there were sufficient safety (34%) and efficacy (28%) data, and 48% would advise using medical marijuana in severe cases of epilepsy. By comparison, nearly all patients and the public said there were sufficient safety (96%) and efficacy (95%) data, and 98% would recommend medical marijuana in cases of severe epilepsy. General physicians, basic researchers, nurses, and allied health professions sided more with patients, saying that there were sufficient safety (70%) and efficacy (71%) data, and 83% would advise using marijuana in severe cases. A majority (78%) said there should be pharmacologic grade compounds containing CBD, and there were no differences between specialists, general medical personal, and patients and the public.

    Significance

    This survey indicates that there is a wide disparity in opinion on the use of medical marijuana and CBD in the treatment of people with epilepsy, which varied substantially, with fewer medical specialists supporting its use compared with general medical personal, and patients and the public.

    Continue —> Fewer specialists support using medical marijuana and CBD in treating epilepsy patients compared with other medical professionals and patients: Result of Epilepsia’s survey – Mathern – 2014 – Epilepsia – Wiley Online Library

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