The Use of Methylphenidate in Children with Traumatic Brain Injury-Induced Attention Problems

Child in Hospital Bed

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children often corresponds to deficiencies in attention, memory, and executive function, and children with a history of TBI are at a great risk of developing secondary Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (S-ADHD). Drugs which stimulate the central nervous system such as methylphenidate (MPH), are commonly used to treat symptoms in children with non-TBI induced ADHD. The goal of this study was to determine the effectiveness of MPH in treating symptoms of S-ADHD.

Twenty children with moderate to severe TBI and twenty children without TBI but with ADHD completed a battery of cognitive assessments in attention and hyperactivity. At the same time, their parents completed assessments in learning problems, conduct disorder, anxiety, and psychosomatic function. Children in the TBI group were then treated with MPH, and after 8 weeks both groups were tested again.

The researchers found that children with S-ADHD significantly improved in attention and hyperactivity, as well as in parent-reported measures of learning, conduct, and anxiety. Adverse effects in response to treatment were minimal, and included decreases in appetite, sleeping difficulty, headache, and stomachache.

Ekinci, Ozalp, et al. "Short-term efficacy and tolerability of methylphenidate in children with traumatic brain injury and attention problems." Brain and Development. (November 2016).

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