Efficacy and Harms of Pharmacological Interventions for Neurobehavioral Symptoms in Post-Traumatic Amnesia after Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review

Amelia J. Hicks, Fiona J. Clay, Malcolm Hopwood, Amelia C. James, Mahesh Jayaram, Rachel Batty, Luke A. Perry, Jennie L. Ponsford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Many individuals in post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) following traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience neurobehavioral symptoms (NBS) in addition to disorientation and amnesia. These symptoms are associated with low rehabilitation engagement, self-inflicted harm, and risk of violence. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the efficacy and harms of pharmacological interventions for NBS in PTA following TBI in adults. Studies in English published before December 2017 were reviewed. Six databases were searched, with additional hand searching of key journals, clinical trials registries, and international drug regulators. Evidence quality was assessed using Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Instruments. Thirteen studies were identified: three randomized controlled trials (RCTs), three cohort studies, and seven case series. In the RCTs, neither amantadine nor sertraline reduced NBS. Less rigorous studies reported reduced NBS in patients administered haloperidol, ziprasidone, carbamazepine, amitriptyline, desipramine, and varied neuroleptics. There is a paucity of well-designed, adequately powered and controlled studies of pharmacological interventions for NBS in PTA. More research is needed to provide evidence-based treatment recommendations and improve care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2755-2775
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • NBS
  • pharmacotherapy
  • PTA
  • TBI

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