Lamotrigine Treatment for Agitation Following Traumatic Brain Injury

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Of the estimated 1.4 million people who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States each year, up to 60% experience long-term neurobehavioral deficits—which can include problems with memory, attention, and reduced processing speed, but also problems such as paranoia, abnormal thinking, and limited social and emotional processing skills. These cognitive outcomes pose serious difficulties for patient rehabilitation and eventual recovery of social and vocational ability.

A recent case study examined the behavior and cognitive function of a 66-year-old man, dubbed Mr. A, who had experienced four serious TBIs in his lifetime. At the time Mr. A was admitted into long-term care, he exhibited seizure disorders, severe deficits in executive function, cognitive impairments, and verbal deficits. Though he showed no evidence of delusion or hallucination, Mr. A’s behavior showed moderate agitation and severe behavioral inhibition. Caregivers increased Mr. A’s dosage of lamotrigine, an anticonvulsant, and within a week Mr. A’s agitated and disinhibited behavior decreased significantly.

This patient’s robust response to a higher dosage of lamotrigine shows promising implications for treatment of some post-TBI neurobehavioral deficits. However, the exact effects of lamotrigine on the rehabilitation of TBI patients are still unclear and merit further research.

Source: Whiting WL, Sullivan GA, Stewart JT. Lamotrigine treatment for agitation following traumatic brain injury. Psychosomatics. (March 2016)

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