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Anticholinergic drugs linked with slower brain injury recovery

Many New Jersey residents are prescribed anticholinergic drugs to treat a number of conditions such as incontinence, asthma and muscle cramps, but recent research indicates that these drugs may have a number of side effects that are not fully understood. The drugs reduce involuntary muscle movements by blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but studies have linked anticholinergics with an increased risk of dementia and slower recovery from serious brain injuries.

Researchers from Great Britain studied the medical records of 52 patients at a neuro-rehabilitation facility who were recovering from a spinal cord or brain injury. They discovered that patients taking anticholinergic drugs for pain relief or incontinence were recovering more slowly than those who were not taking the drugs. The researchers also noted a correlation between the amounts of anticholinergic drugs patients were taking and the length of time it took them to recover from their injuries.

The British researchers published their findings in the journal Brain Injury, and they were quick to concede that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. However, they did say that more research should be conducted to examine the side effects associated with anticholinergic drugs due to their widespread use to treat a variety of conditions.

This kind of research reminds us of how much of a mystery the workings of the human brain remain. Those who suffer serious brain injuries could be coping with extremely difficult symptoms for a lifetime, and they may pursue civil remedies when their injuries are suffered in an accident caused by the negligent actions of others. A personal injury attorney will likely understand that the full extent of a brain injury is not always apparent, and they may call upon medical experts to help determine the appropriate level of damages to seek in a lawsuit.Source: Healthline.com, "What are Anticholinergics?," Jacquelyn Cafasso, June 4, 2013

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