In a novel new approach to helping deal with the side effects of brain injury, researchers are looking at the female hormone known as progesterone. It’s a well-known hormone that women’s bodies utilize when they are pregnant and it’s commonly used in some forms of oral contraceptives. Now, according to a new study, it may have a new application: helping lower the risk of disability and death in individuals who have experienced moderate yet traumatic brain injury.
In the past, the use of progesterone in animal studies has shown it can help reduce the amount of swelling that occurs right after an injury to the brain is sustained. The hormone also has shown to help prevent death from occurring in the victim and it can even help improve functional outcomes as well. So how did it fare in the new trial? Let’s have a look.
In the study, which was conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, researchers looked at 100 individuals who experienced brain injury; they all got to an emergency room within 11 hours of the damage happening. The participants in the study were given either placebo or an intravenous dose of progesterone. The placebo and hormone doses were randomly assigned to each individual participating in the study.
The results? After 30 days of the injury occurring, 13% of the participants in the progesterone group died, as compared to 30% in the placebo group. This led the researchers to note that the progesterone resulted in a 57% drop in the death rate due to brain injury.
Also, after getting into contact with 92% of those participants who lived to 30 days after the incident occurred, the progesterone helped with recovery as well (this was noted in those who had moderate brain injury only). It also needs to be noted that those individuals who experienced severe brain injury did not gain any benefits from the progesterone injections.
When it came to administering the hormone, the group that received the injection of progesterone saw some swelling at the site of injection, but that was it. In both groups the researchers noted that no serious side effects occurred.
Progesterone is especially worth noting, as it can enter the brain quickly. Plus, it’s not costly and it has a good past track record of safe use. It’s also a hormone that is easy to administer in patients, which is an added bonus. The researchers will note how progesterone has helped the participants in one year’s time as well, so we’ll keep you posted.
While the findings are indeed encouraging, there’s a lot more research that is needed into this hormone’s benefits for brain injury sufferers. For now, it’s a first step that could lead to a helpful means of treating this devastating condition. Who knows? In the future, receiving an injection of progesterone may be commonplace when a patient comes into the emergency room with a case of head trauma.