Anticholinergics may delay brain injury recovery

Many Washington residents will incur a brain injury that requires a hospital stay. According to a pilot study done in the United Kingdom, older patients taking anticholinergics while in the hospital had longer recovery times if their anticholinergic drug burden levels were higher on discharge than on admission.

Anticholinergics are a class of drug used to treat various conditions, such as pain, depression, insomnia, and incontinence. It is well known that these drugs have side effects that include confusion, short term cognitive impairment, and dizziness. Fifty two patients with serious brain injury or spinal injury in a neuro-rehabilitation unit were studied because they are commonly given anticholinergics. This study suggests a link between ACB levels in the body and recovery time.

The side effects of the anticholinergic medication hinder the patient’s ability to fully engage in their rehabilitation, resulting in a longer stay in the hospital. One measure of a hospital’s performance is the length of the patient’s stay. The more time spent in the hospital, the higher the medical expenses, so financial considerations play a role in this. A co-author of the study says that when possible, anticholinergics should not be used in some people. A nurse, pharmacist, or doctor should regularly review the medication usage to ensure it is appropriate for each patient.

If a person has experienced a traumatic brain injury caused by the negligence of another, an attorney experienced in these matters could help. After the review of the evidence related to the incident, the attorney might recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from the responsible party.

Source: Medical News Today, “Brain injury recovery may be hampered by commonly used drugs”, Aug. 10, 2015

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