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Can Hormonal Therapy Help Treat Brain Injuries?

A lot about brain injuries remains unknown. Even as medical technology improves, there are still lots of uncertainties in terms of how to treat such injuries. Doctors do know that time is of the essence, and that treating serious injuries immediately after they occur can be of vital importance.

One such treatment involving hormonal therapy is being tested out, and it appears to be helping patients with brain injuries. Progesterone, a reproductive hormone that is most commonly associated with pregnancy and menstruation, appears to reduce the number of deaths related to brain injuries, as well as lessen disability for those who survive.

In a trial involving 100 patients back in 2007, those who received the hormone saw a 13 percent fatality rate 30 days after a traumatic brain injury. That compared to a 30 percent rate for those who did not receive progesterone. In addition, those who received it had better functional improvement with reduced threat of lingering disability.

A new study financed by the National Institute of Health is taking a closer look at whether the administration of progesterone can helped brain-injured patients. The hormone must be infused within four hours of an injury, and patients who receive it will be assessed six months out.

One doctor, a professor of neuroscience, says the early data is “very promising.” It might offer hope to those who suffer brain injuries, as well as their families. About 1.7 million people in the U.S. experience a traumatic brain injury every year. Typically 275,000 of them are hospitalized, and 50,000 die from their injuries.

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

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