Scientists have been discussing what is being considered the world’s first clinical trial to use the hormone progesterone as a treatment for moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Every year, 50,000 Americans die because of a traumatic brain injury and 80,000 more Americans become disabled. Some brain injury treatments can include barbiturates, mannitol, and surgery, but these methods are last-resort and do not always work.
Daily life can become severely disrupted because of a brain injury and tasks such as concentrating or memory can become problematic. In animal studies, progesterone was able to improve memory and cognitive thinking skills after suffering a brain injury. The rats had less brain swelling and were able to better recover when treated shortly after the brain injury.
The progesterone was able to moderate the brain injury inflammation that can lead to dangerous head swelling after a brain injury. After a traumatic brain injury is suffered, damaging chemicals called free radicals appear to be slowed and sometimes blocked by the use of progesterone. The secondary injury after the initial brain injury trauma is what can cause increases in brain injury size and lead to death, but progesterone brain injury treatment seems to protect the brain from nerve, neuron, and other brain cell breakdown.