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Hormone treatment holds promise for brain injury recovery: Part Two

In our last post we discussed the difficulty that many patients experience in recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Car accidents or other big impacts can cause swelling which may destroy cells brain cells that do not regenerate.

These injuries affect a large group of people in Tennessee and around the country, about 1.7 million people each year nationwide. Researchers are constantly seeking new and better treatment to help the millions of Americans who live with brain injuries. Doctors at Emory University have recently begun work on a new and exciting treatment option that uses hormone therapy to help stop the damage to brain cells in the hours immediately after a car accident or other impact.

Progesterone, a hormone associated with pregnancy, is being given to a trial group that will eventually include 1,140 patients at hospitals around the country. In the first stages of research, the hormone seemed to reduce the swelling that causes damage to brain cells. There is also evidence that it may help to protect the cells themselves.

An earlier study of just 100 patients showed a much lower mortality rate during the first 30 days after an injury for patients receiving the hormone. Without the treatment there was a 30 percent mortality rate, and with it there was a 13 percent mortality rate.

One patient who has entered the trial, an 18-year-old car accident victim, said that she is optimistic about the possibilities. She has been steadily recovering and has relearned how to walk and would like to return to college.

A doctor who is participating in the study at Stanford said that the hormone treatment could also hold hope for stroke victims who suffer from brain swelling.

Source: The New York Times, "A hormonal remedy for brain injuries is explored," David Tuller, June 18, 2012

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