As it currently stands, approximately 1.7 million individuals annually will suffer from a traumatic brain injury, making it a leading cause of disabilities and fatalities. One well-known drug, lithium, has been used for decades as a mood stabilizer to treat mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder. However, Montana residents may be interested to hear that recent research out of Rutgers University has shown that lithium may also be beneficial in treating brain injuries.
This research is significant, since currently medications used in treating brain injuries are meant to help alleviate the symptoms of the injury and reduce pain, rather than stopping additional injury. Lithium apparently keeps toxic chemicals, such as glutamate, from accumulating in a person's brain cells. The drug blocks the toxic chemicals from triggering cell death. This, in turn, helps protect neurons in the brain.