Common medications with anticholinergic properties may delay recovery from brain injury, according to new research published in Brain Injury.
While anticholinergics are known to produce side effects including temporary cognitive impairment, dizziness, and confusion, its effect on people with existing brain injuries was not known. Medications with anticholinergic properties are used to treat anything from bladder problems to depression and insomnia.
M. Sakel, of East Kent University NHS Hospitals in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed rehabilitation in 52 patients with acquired brain or spinal injuries, including the Northwick Park Dependency Score (NPDS), Rehabilitation Complexity Scale (RCS), Functional Independence Measure and Functional Assessment Measure (FIM-FAM), length of stay (LOS), and anticholinergic burder (ACB) between admission and discharge.
Researchers found a significant positive correlation between ACB and LOS in patients with acquired brain and spine injuries. Positive change in ACB was also correlated with a positive change in NPDS, but showed no effect on FIM-FAM or RCS.
"The findings suggest there may be a statistically significant relationship between ACB score and length of stay in a neuro-rehabilitation unit following traumatic brain or spinal cord injury,” said Chris Fox, PhD, lead author of the study. "This pilot study demonstrates the need for larger studies to confirm the results and need for further investigation into what long-term effects these common medications are having on the recovery of these patients."
Researchers from the U.K. sought to understand the effects of medications with anticholinergic properties on people with existing brain or spinal injuries. Anticholinergics are used broadly to treat common complications, from incontinence to depression, and are associated with side effects including temporary cognitive impairment, dizziness, and confusion.
The observational study included 52 patients with acquired brain or spinal injuries from a U.K. rehabilitation hospital. Researchers found a statistically significant correlation between anticholinergic burdern and neuro-disability measures and length of stay among the patient cohort.