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TBI Medication Chart


Anti-convulsant Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
Anti-convulsant medications are used to suppress the rapid and excessive firing of neurons that start a seizure. Anti-convulsants can sometimes prevent the spread of a seizure within the brain and offer protection against possible excitotoxic (excessive stimulation by chemicals in the nervous system) effects that may result in brain damage. Examples include: sodium valproate, gabapentin, topiramate and carbamazepine.
  • Absence seizures (formally called petite mal seizures)
  • Acute seizures
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Corticofocal seizures
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Panic disorders
  • Sedative/hypnotic (sleep aid)
  • Simple and complex partial seizures
  • Headache
  • Pain
  • Behavioral effects (aggression)
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Anorexia (eating disorder)
  • Ataxia (muscle incoordination)
  • Confusion
  • Diploplia (double vision)
  • Drowsiness
  • Dysarthria (speech disorder)
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements)
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
NOTE: These medications should not be stopped abruptly. Please check with your provider before discontinuing use.


Anti-depressant Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
Anti-depressant medications are thought to work by affecting the levels of the brain's natural chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, and adjusting the brain's response to them. Examples include: citalopram, amitriptyline, paroxetine and sertraline.
  • Anxiety
  • Bulimia (eating disorder)
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorders
  • Blurred vision
  • Cardiac palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Hypotension
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness
  • Seizures
  • Skin rash
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Urinary retention
NOTE: These medications should not be stopped abruptly. Please check with your provider before discontinuing use.


Anti-psychotic Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
Anti-psychotic medications are a class of drugs used to treat psychosis and other mental and emotional conditions. One of the most frequently used medications in this class is quetiapine.
  • Aggression and agitation
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dystonia (a movement disorder)
  • Headache
  • Hypotension
  • Parkinsonism
  • Tremor
  • Urinary retention
  • Weight gain


Pain Management Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
Pain management medications are used to control pain stemming from TBI, and the symptoms and effects related to the injury. Examples include: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Burning sensation
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Reye's syndrome (a rare but serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain)
  • Sedation
  • Tingling sensation
  • Vomiting
NOTE: Overuse of over-the-counter and herbal pain medications may actually aggravate the condition. Be sure that your provider is aware of all of the nonprescription meds that you are taking. Narcotics are not appropriate for pain management in TBI cases.


Motor System Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
These medications act on the motor system to affect the chemical balance in the brain, in an effort to control bodily movement. Examples include: baclofen, tizanidine or cyclobenzaprine.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dyskinesia (impairment of movement)
  • Euphoria
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Vomiting


Memory and Cognition Medications

How They Work: What They Treat: Possible Side Effects:
These medications act to block enzymes in the brain. These drugs are used to treat dementia, such as that found with Alzheimer’s disease. Others are used to treat attention deficits and hyperactivity. They may improve memory, awareness, and the ability to take part in everyday life. Examples include: donepezil, modafinil and methylphenidate.
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Memory problems
  • Attention problems
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevation of liver enzymes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting