Brain injuries are a serious burden of illness to Canada and the US. Advances in managing head trauma have allowed more patients to emerge from decreased levels of consciousness and helped them cope with neurocognitive, neurobehavioural, and neuropsychiatric deficits. In this article, we review the current (1986-2002) evidence surrounding the pharmacological management of arousal states and the aforementioned neurological sequelae of head injury in either acute or chronic conditions. This article will review the evidence for the use of psychostimulants (methylphenidate), antidepressants (amitriptyline, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and buproprion), Parkinson’s medications (amantadine, bromocriptine, carbidopa/levodopa), anticonvulsants (valproic acid), modafinil (Provigil), lactate, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, electroconvulsive therapy, and transmagnetic stimulation, in patients following a head injury. The review did not include all anticonvulsants, neuroleptics, beta-blockers, benzodiazepines, azospirones or cognitive enhancers. Unfortunately, the quality of the evidence is generally poor, and sometimes conflicting, which in turn results in indecisive guidelines for treating patients. Accepting the inherent flaws in the evidence we feel that this paper may serve as a stepping-stone for future researchers to improve data gathering that targets neurocognitive, neurobehavioural and neuropsychiatric symptoms following a head injury.

DeMarchi, Bansal, Hung, Wroblewski, Dua, Sockalingam, Bhalerao, , (2005). Review of awakening agents. The Canadian journal of neurological sciences. Le journal canadien des sciences neurologiques, 2005 Feb;32(1):4-17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15825541