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Men with Brain Injury Regain Temporary Speaking and Walking Ability After Taking Ambien

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Ambien's prescription bottle, also known as Zolpidem

Ambien’s prescription bottle, also known as Zolpidem
Photo: Tim Boyle (((Getty Images)

Doctors in Amsterdam say that drugs that are usually associated with drowsiness have given men with severe brain injuries a short period of clarity. A recent case report describes how a single dose of the drug zolpidem (well known by the brand name Ambien) can temporarily restore a man’s ability to speak and walk. Sadly, the effect lasts only a few hours at a time, but in men it can provide insight into how a stroke or other trauma can damage the brain. ..

According to the case report Release In last month’s journal Cortex, a 37-year-old man suffered a tragic brain injury at the age of 29. He choked a piece of meat and blocked oxygen to the brain long enough, causing serious and permanent damage. His neural function. He initially showed some recovery and some degree of consciousness, but soon became unable to move independently, speak, or stay awake for a very long time. For the next eight years, the man’s condition remained the same, and he needed 24 hours of care and a feeding tube to stay alive.

Zolpidem is most often used as a sedative, but evidence has been built that it can sometimes have Paradoxical effectCauses awakening in some people, including Those With certain neuropathy that leaves a coma. Doctors decided to give the man a single, relatively high-dose drug. Within 20 minutes he was able to speak. After that, he talked to his father on the phone for the first time in a few years, and with the help he managed to even walk again. He had a choking incident and memory loss three weeks before, and some hearing impairment, but otherwise he was cheerful and alert and at some point sought fast food. ..

Unfortunately, the miraculous recovery lasted only about an hour before he gradually returned to the baseline level of function. When he was given zolpidem repeatedly throughout the day, the normal period lasted shorter than each time until the drug became completely ineffective and had a sedative effect on him. Ultimately, doctors found zolpidem to be the most effective. Zolpidem, if not taken in the last 2-3 weeks, lasted about 30-60 minutes per dose and then disappeared in 1 hour. For this reason, he currently only receives medication on special occasions such as family visits and dentist appointments.

Despite the elusive long-term cure for a man’s condition, his doctor wants to understand exactly how zolpidem can cause turnarounds, albeit surprisingly short. I was thinking. So they studied his brain via EEG and MRI before and after he took the drug. Their finding is that zolpidem, which functions by inhibiting a major neurotransmitter called GABA, calms parts of the human brain that have become overactive after injury, while at the same time increasing the levels of EEG activity associated with arousal. Suggests to let.

“If we could compare the functioning of the brain to, so to speak, a large string orchestra. In our patients, the first violin is played so loud that it drowns the other members of the string orchestra and people speak to each other. You won’t be able to hear. Zorpidem guarantees that these first violins will play more “pianissimo” and will allow everyone to play in time, “said the Free University of Amsterdam Medical Center. Hisse Arns, a medical trainee and principal author of the neuroscience researcher Said IFL Science.

Since this is the only patient and rare reports of zolpidem regaining consciousness in similar patients, there is still less to learn about the effects of the drug on the brain besides its accepted use as a sleep aid. We have a lot. But ideally, this study could lead to better understanding and, perhaps someday, repair the unique type of brain injury that causes a man’s condition. The authors say that one of the possible steps in the future is to use existing therapies such as deep brain stimulation to balance brain overactivity for longer than Zolpidem can perform. ..

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