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Anticholinergic drugs may retard recovery of brain injury patients

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New study has revealed that this group of drugs could delay the recovery of brain injury patients. Anticholinergic drugs help to block involuntary movements of the muscles. They are often used to treat a broad range of common conditions including bladder problems, insomnia and depression. The study was published in Brain Injury.


For the study, researchers analyzed 52 patients with acquired brain or spinal injury at a neuro-rehabilitation unit. They observed that the average length of stay was longer in patients with a higher level of anticholinergic drugs in their system, known as the anticholinergic drug burden, or ACB. The findings suggested that the change in ACB correlated directly to the length of hospital stay.

Researcher Ian Maidment, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston University in Birmingham, England, said, "This work adds to the evidence that anticholinergics should be avoided in a wide-range of populations, when possible. Regular medication review by a nurse, doctor or pharmacist may be a way of ensuring that medicines with anti-cholinergic effects are used appropriately,"

Lead study author Chris Fox, professor University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, said, "While medications with ACB are often needed to treat common complications of brain or spinal cord injuries, cognitive impairment due to the medication may adversely affect a patient's ability to engage in the rehabilitation process, potentially increasing their length of stay in hospital."

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