The first hours after a traumatic brain injury can be important when it comes to reducing its impact on long-term mental function. A recent study suggests that using a naturally-produced hormone can help preserve brain function if administered quickly after a serious TBI. If it leads to a new treatment, this could make a big difference in minimizing the seriousness of TBIs in the future.

The hormone used in the research is called progesterone. Our bodies create it naturally, but women produce especially high amounts while pregnant. Doctors have been testing using shots of progesterone in a series of clinical trials to see if it has a positive effect on brain injury patients. The trials are taking place in more than 150 medical facilities in 21 countries.

It appears that the hormone helps reduce swelling and cell death in the brain while rebuilding the blood-brain barrier. Based on early results of the clinical trials, administering progesterone within eight hours of the brain injury can significantly boost the patient’s recovery.

One man who participated in the triall nearly died in a car accident. He was in a coma when he was enrolled in the trial. He received either the hormone or a placebo for five straight days.

Six months later, the man is not only still alive, but his brain function has improved significantly since the accident. Though he still has lingering symptoms and does no know if he actually received the hormone, his case could be an example of how effective progesterone could be.

Source: KABC-TV, “Hormone could help heal traumatic brain injuries,” Denise Dador, July 23, 2013