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Alzheimer's Drug May Help with Memory Loss Resulting from Traumatic Brain Injuries

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Traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) are among the most common brain disorders in the US. TBI’s occur when a sudden force makes contact with the head and causes damage to the brain. Every year, nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from a TBI. Memory loss is the most common injury sustained after a TBI and currently over 5 million Americans are living with some sort of memory loss linked to a TBI.

Researchers from New York University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine recently conducted a study involving 134 individuals with memory loss due to TBI’s. Half of the study’s participants were given the Alzheimer’s drug rivastigmine, and the other half received a placebo. After 12 weeks of drug administration, those taking rivastigmine performed better on visual and verbal memory tests than those taking the placebo. Results showed that the drug worked better on individuals with moderate to severe memory loss.

Rivastigmine helps with memory loss by enhancing the function of a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning. The drug induces more production of the neurotransmitter so that it can stay in the gaps between cells and act as a chemical messenger. Researchers say that more studies need to be done to determine how effective rivastigmine really is in patients with TBI’s and memory loss.