A drug used to treat Alzheimer’s could also be useful in the treatment of mental impairment caused by traumatic head injury, research has shown.
Research, led by a team from the National Rehabilitation Hospital near Dublin, involving a small pilot study involving just nine patients, including stroke and accident victims, found that a daily dose of Aricept improved their memory, concentration, and mental vigilance. It also appeared to reduce levels of fatigue.
Dr Simone Carter, senior clinical neuropsychologist at the hospital, said traumatic head injuries often caused symptoms that mirrored those of Alzheimer’s.
The nine volunteer patients, seven men and two women aged from 40 to 70, were started off on five milligrams of Aricept a day, rising to 10 milligrams after 10 weeks. The doses were similar to those given to Alzheimer’s patients.
After about a year of treatment sustained attention and memory were the areas where the most significant benefits were seen.
Over time patients also started to suffer less fatigue, and their levels of “mental vigilance” were enhanced.
Aricept boosts levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that allows neurons to pass messages to each other. It suppresses a natural enzyme which normally breaks down acetylcholine, allowing levels of the neurotransmitter to rise.
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