Traumatic Brain Injuries May Not be Treatable by Hormones

Two new studies have found out that the use of hormone treatment in the form of the female hormone progesterone is not helpful in case of people who have fresh traumatic brain injuries. The results generated by this study have dashed high hopes for the treatment of a problem that hits millions each year be it combat troops or car crash victims.

Every year, more than two million people are hospitalized with brain injuries. Also emergency room visits in this context are seen in large numbers each year in the United States. Such injuries are serious as they cause major disabilities.

There is a section of drugs that help in the case of these injuries as they reduce symptoms, such as swelling. The worrisome part is that none of these drugs are known to improve long-term recovery and prevent disability. Work in animals and two very encouraging small trials in people suggested towards the fact that progesterone is one hormone that might work in this case.

Progesterone is a female sex hormone that is thought to protect nerves and brain cells in a variety of ways, including curbing inflammation that causes swelling after an injury. Two studies conducted in this respect have shown that this might not be the case.

One of these studies has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and was led by doctors at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. The study found that there are dozens of trauma centers around the US that are aimed to enroll 1,140 patients with moderate to severe brain injuries, mostly car crash victims. All were given infusions of progesterone or a dummy solution for four days. Researchers found that those given progesterone were more likely to suffer phlebitis, or inflammation in the legs and arms that can lead to dangerous clots.

Emory's Dr. David Wright said, "It was an absolute, complete failure. We had all hoped this was going to move the field forward and now patients are left "with very little hope".