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New drug shows promise in speeding recovery following severe brain injury

An article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine discusses research on a drug called Amantadine which has been shown to speed recovery from severe traumatic brain injury.  The researchers have concluded that the administration of this drug to patients in a vegetative state caused them to become responsive.

Amantadine was originally used to treat flu symptoms and was then found to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.

In a quote to AP, Joseph Giacino of  Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, co-leader of the study said, "This drug moved the needle in terms of speeding patient recovery, and that's not been shown before” and adding,  "It really does provide hope for a population that is viewed in many places as hopeless."

Although some question whether this drug actually improves long term recovery or just speeds up the pace of recovery, it is an important first step in finding medication that assists in the treatment of those suffering from a traumatic brain injury and may be a clue to the development of other medications.

As stated by Brain Injury Association of America President and Chief Operating Officer to the New York Times, "Hope is critical and false hope is cruel for families dealing with this,”  The new findings, she added, are “a little piece of hope, the real kind.”

You can read a full story in today’s New York Times or go to the New England Journal of Medicine.

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