Guide to Medications after Brain Injury

Guide to Medications after Brain Injury

Peter Patrick, Ph.D.
Medications can affect children and adults differently after a brain injury. They can help treat some effects of brain trauma. This tip card helps families, caregivers and clinicians understand reasons for using some medications along with possible benefits and side effects. It is helpful for discussions with your physician.
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Full Description

Certain medications can help treat emotional and psychological changes after a brain injury. They can also help improve cognitive abilities. But medications require careful supervision by a physician experienced in brain trauma for use, dosage and results.

This tip card gives tips on how to talk about medication with your doctor, manage side effects and avoid drug interactions. It provides a checklist for survivors and families to use before beginning medication to treat the consequences of brain injury.

Pages 8
Year 2008, second printing


Peter Patrick, Ph.D.

Dr. Patrick is a neuropsychologist and former director of Learning Services/Mid-Atlantic Region, a brain-injury rehabilitation center located in Manassas, Virginia. He has been working with brain-injured patients and their families since 1982. Dr. Patrick is highly regarded in the field of brain-injury rehabilitation and has a personal interest in it as his daughter, Erin, has been living with a brain injury since childhood. Erin has far exceeded recovery expectations and has graduated from college. Dr. Patrick remains active in the rehabilitation community.


This tip card helps families and individuals with brain injury...

  • understand reasons for medication
  • identify benefits and side effects
  • discuss medication with a doctor

Why Take Medication?

  • Emotional and psychological changes
  • Changes in the brain
  • Improving cognitive abilities

Attitudes and Beliefs about Using Medication

Talking with the Doctor

Managing Side Effects

Managing Drug Interactions

Lessons Learned

Your Checklist Before Beginning Medication

  • Tips on question to ask



Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Why Take Medication?

Medications may help a person with a brain injury. They may be used to treat some of the physical, emotional and cognitive effects of a brain injury. It is important for individuals and families to learn about the use, side effects and interactions of any medications.

Emotional and psychological changes

There are many changes and struggles in a person’s life after a brain injury. Adjusting to changes in abilities and opportunities can be hard. People often feel depressed, anxious, frustrated, or angry after a brain injury. They may have difficulty controlling emotions and have less control over their feelings. Some people even have personality changes and different temperaments after a brain injury.

These feelings usually surface after a person leaves the hospital and has returned home. Families often use the words “like a different person now” to describe how much the person has changed. The person may find it hard to return to school or work, keep friends, and keep up with the pace and demands of daily life. It can take a long time for a person to recover from a brain injury. The person may never be the same as before the injury. This can be very difficult for everyone in the family.

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