Traumatic brain injury affects nearly 2 million Americans each year contributing to death and disability. The initial trauma can trigger a series of changes within the brain. Tissue damage and cell death cause a range of symptoms that have been hard to reverse.
That’s why there was great interest in preliminary research suggesting that early administration of the female hormone progesterone might counteract many of the complications associated with traumatic brain injury.
Study Results Disappointing
Unfortunately, the results of two controlled trials have just been published in The New England Journal of Medicine and they did not demonstrate benefit. One of the studies included 1195 patients and the other 882 patients. There were no significant gains in function between those who received progesterone and those who got placebo.
A study published more than two years ago showed promise with the use of a different drug. Amantadine, an old drug which is approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and type A influenza, has also been shown to speed recovery from traumatic brain injury. The study did not demonstrate whether long-term outcomes would be improved, however. That is the result that is most important, and the reason that the progesterone studies are such a disappointment.