This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Changes in Memory After TBI. Dr. David Arciniegas discusses Medication and Memory Problems After TBI.

In addition to the strategies that we can teach people to use to help improve their memory function after brain injury, strategies we can teach to persons with injuries as well as their families and other carers, it is important to know that there are some medical treatments that may actually be able to help with memory problems as well.

Although most of the treatments that we use were developed for other purposes, they turned out to be quite useful in at least a subset of people with traumatic brain injury. For example, some of the medicines originally developed for use with persons with Alzheimer's disease, the cholinesterase inhibitors, as we call them, turn out to be more effective in people with brain injury than they are for persons with Alzheimer's.

They don't fix the memory problems, but, if you will, they put the bumpers up in the gutters of the bowling lane to prevent memory gutter-balls and allow people to learn to use their strategies more effectively. If you will, the medicines aren't going to help you bowl strikes, but they may keep you out of the gutter long enough that you can learn how to do that.

We are in the process of studying a number of these treatments, but even today there are probably four medicines that we could offer people with brain injuries to improve their memory functioning. And when strategies alone have not proven to be as useful as they need to be, it's something that people with brain injuries and their families should talk to their doctors about.

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