Natural remedy for brain injuries?

An 18-year-old young woman was struck by a car while crossing a street. Thrown over 30 feet, the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury. Physicians gave her little hope of recovery because of the severity of her injuries. Though this particular incident happened in another state, busy roadways in Miami and other larger cities, are often scenes of similar vehicle-pedestrian tragedies.

However, the young woman, recuperating at Santa Clara Medical Center, in California, is part of a study using an unusual new treatment program. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, under the oversight of Emory University in Atlanta, the program involves a three-day infusion of progesterone, the hormone produced by adrenal glands and gonads, commonly called the “reproductive” hormone.

The study is testing the hypothesis that this hormone can “reduce mortality and disability” if infused within four hours of a traumatic brain injury. Results of this treatment are then measured six months after administering the hormone. Since there are no medications approved for preventing permanent damage after TBIs, medical professionals are excited about initial results of this therapy.

An assistant professor of neurosurgery at a New York medical center, who is not involved in the study, expressed that he has a “measure of cautious optimism,” as the “early data look very promising.” Emory researchers reported that a trial of 100 TBI patients in 2007 resulted in a mortality rate, after 30 days, for those receiving progesterone that was only 13 percent. Those who were given a placebo experienced a mortality rate of 30 percent.

Additionally, those with serious TBIs, who were given progesterone, enjoyed greater functional improvement than those patients who were not treated with the hormone. A similar, but smaller, study in China experienced the same encouraging results.

As more people, such as military personnel and professional athletes in the NFL and NHL, suffer concussions and TBIs, brain injury prevention and treatment is drawing huge attention from the medical community. Do you support this brain injury attention? Do you believe new treatment programs, particularly if more natural than synthetic, will help reduce the life-threatening effects of traumatic brain injuries?

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