New Generation of Drugs for Post-Traumatic Epilepsy
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain hemorrhaging often results in epileptic seizures. In the past, clinicians have treated these seizures with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) that resolve some symptoms but crucially fail to stop the development of post-epileptic disease and brain damage. To improve patients’ quality of life, clinicians are developing new kinds of AEDs that may hasten posttraumatic epilepsy (PTE) recovery and avoid the psychological changes caused by drug treatment.
A 20-year study examined 113 patients with PTE and 113 patients whose seizures were not caused by traumatic injury. Researchers assessed these patients’ MRI and EEG scans (physical measures of brain activity) within 24 hours of a seizure and again after 5 years of treatment with either a standard AED (carbamazepine) or a new AED (lamotrigine). After analyzing patient recovery, researchers categorized each patient by the number of seizures they suffered per year (if any); those who no longer experienced seizures were said to be in “complete remission.” They found that 77% of patients treated with new AEDs experienced complete remission, compared to 73% of the standard AED group. Furthermore, within the new AED group, patients experienced remission 2.5 months earlier, on average, than their standard-AED counterparts.
This study confirms the hypothesis that new AED treatments can help PTE sufferers achieve remission considerably faster than those who receive standard AEDs. The development and application of new AEDs has the potential to seriously improve quality of life and recovery time for those who suffer from TBI-related seizures.
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