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Report: Lithium may be treatment for traumatic brain injury

The Food and Drug Administration approved lithium salts to treat depression and mania. In fact, it was the first drug approved to do so. Now, according to a new study by Rutgers University, lithium may help prevent nerve cells from dying and preserve brain function in people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The study was published in Scientific Reports. The scientists found that lithium and rapamycin protected nerve cells in the brain. In addition, it stopped further brain cell damage by stopping a chemical known as glutamate from sending signals to other cells. Rapamycin has been used as a treatment for some types of cancer.

The lead author of the study, who is a professor in the Cell Biology and Neuroscience department in the School of Arts and Science said, "Many medications now used for those suffering with traumatic brain injury focus on treating the symptoms and stopping the pain instead of protecting any further damage from occurring."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 1.7 million people suffer a TBI each year. Further, about 30 percent of all deaths caused by an injury are due -- at least in part -- to a TBI. Symptoms can include personality changes, impaired memory or thinking, depression and hearing and vision problems. Older adults and children are at the highest risk of dying from an injury that involves a TBI. Each day, 153 people die from injuries that include a TBI.

The lead author said that further research is needed, but that drugs that work to prevent long-term damage from TBIs are needed, especially since it is so difficult to diagnose concussions in children.

Many TBIs are caused by motor vehicle accidents, trip- or slip-and-fall incidents, medical negligence or sports injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered a TBI because of someone else's negligent actions, you may have a right to seek compensation for your medical expenses, both past and future, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.

Source: Drug Discovery & Development, "Bipolar Drug May Treat Traumatic Brain Injuries," May 09, 2017

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