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Study: Parkinson's drug may speed brain injury recovery

(Xinhuanet.com)

13:35, March 01, 2012


BEIJING, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- A new study indicated that daily doses of a drug used for Parkinson’s disease appears to speed recovery in traumatic brain injury, according to Thursday's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, researchers from 11 clinics enrolled 184 patients who recently had a traumatic brain injury from a car accident or from blows to the head.

Some were in a vegetative state while others were in what is known as a minimally conscious state Researchers divided the patients into two groups. Members of one group got two doses of amantadine a day and members of the other group received placebo pills for the first four weeks of the six-week study. Both groups were followed up for two additional weeks.

The researchers used the Disability Rating Scale (DRS) to monitor patients' progress during the treatment and follow-up period. The test measured eye opening, verbal ability and motor response, among other functions, said study co-author Joseph Giacino, director of rehabilitation neuropsychology at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, in Boston.

While taking the drug, the patients given amantadine scored better on behavioral tests that measure how well the brain is functioning compared to a group of patients given a placebo.

"Amantadine appeared to increase the rate of recovery compared to placebo. Patients got better faster while they were on the drug," said Giacino.

Among other effects, amantadine increases the activity of dopamine, a chemical messenger that is highly active in the frontal areas of the brain behind the forehead.

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