Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” The symptoms that manifest because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. To be properly treated and individual must obtain an accurate diagnosis and the severity (e.g., mild, or moderate to severe) of the TBI must be distinguished. There is a plethora of treatment options available to help an individual recover from a TBI. However, not all methods of treatment are effective across the board, and not all individuals will benefit from including medication into their treatment plan.
Every individual is unique and will require a tailored treatment plan to ensure all nuanced needs are met. Some individuals will benefit from including medication as a component of their TBI treatment plan. While there is no FDA approved medication specifically intended for the treatment of TBI, there are certain medications that can help enhance the recovery process. Types of medication used include:
- Sedative agents such as barbiturates to reduce pressure in the brain (intracranial pressure) or induce a medical coma in serious brain injuries
- Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin to prevent seizures from overactive neurons which are activated by the injury
- Diuretics to reduce intracranial pressure and help drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
- Magnesium to improve blood flow to the brain and maintain a stable state (homeostasis) in the brain
For long-term management of TBI-related symptoms, an individual may require medications such as pain relievers, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, and stimulants to treat deficits in cognitive functions (e.g., memory, learning, language, attention, etc.). Traumatic brain injury treatment is intended to help the brain of an individual that has suffered from a TBI rebuild and reinforce neural pathways that were damaged to enable functioning at peak performance. When posed with the question: What is the best medicine for a TBI? There is no universal answer. The best TBI medicine will depend on each person’s distinct needs.
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If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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