From Medical Xpress:

Drugs used to treat common complaints could delay the recovery of brain injury patients according to research led by University of East Anglia (UEA) scientists working with other UK universities including Aston and the NHS, published today in Brain Injury.

Prescribed for up to 50 per cent of older people, medications with anticholinergic properties are used to treat a broad range of common conditions including bladder problems, depression and insomnia.

Anticholinergics are already known to have side effects such as temporary , dizziness and confusion. But their effects on people with pre-existing brain and spinal injuries have not been investigated until now.

Medications with anti-cholinergic properties are often used on neuro-rehabilitation units frequently to manage symptoms from urinary incontinence to pain.

The study of 52 with acquired brain or at a neuro-rehabilitation unit showed 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.

Results showed that the change in ACB correlated directly to the length of hospital stay. A higher ACB score on discharge, compared with on admission, was associated with a longer stay in hospital and a lower ACB on discharge saw on average a shorter stay. The team cautioned however that as an observational study, cause-and-effect relationship cannot be implied.

Dr Chris Fox, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Norwich Medical School at UEA and lead author on the paper, said: “The findings…

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