Pharmacological management of dysautonomia following traumatic brain injury

Ian J. Baguley*, Ian D. Camerons, Alisa M. Green, Shameran Slewa-Younan, Jeno E. Marosszeky, Joseph A. Gurka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Primary objective: To document and critically evaluate the likely effectiveness of pharmacological treatments used in a sample of patients with Dysautonomia and to link these findings to previously published literature. Research design: Retrospective case control chart review. Methods and procedures: Data were collected on age, sex and GCS matched subjects with and without Dysautonomia (35 cases and 35 controls). Data included demographic and injury details, physiological parameters, medication usage, clinical progress and rehabilitation outcome. Descriptive analyses were undertaken to characterize the timing and frequency of CNS active medications. Main outcomes and results: Dysautonomic patients were significantly more likely to receive neurologically active medications. A wide variety of drugs were utilised with the most frequent being morphine/midazolam and chlorpromazine. Cessation of morphine/midazolam produced significant increases in heart rate and respiratory rate but not temperature. Chlorpromazine may have modified respiratory rate responses, but not temperature or heart rate. Conclusions: The features of Dysautonomia are similar to a number of conditions treated as medical emergencies. Despite this, no definitive treatment paradigm exists. The best available evidence is for morphine (especially intravenously), benzodiazepines, propanolol, bromocriptine and possibly intrathecal baclofen. Barriers to improving management include the lack of a standardized nomenclature, formal definition or accepted diagnostic test. Future research needs to be conducted to improve understanding of Dysautonomia with a view to minimizing disability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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