Categories: ResearchPublished On: November 18, 2014

ECT as a therapeutic option in severe brain injury
Kant R, Bogyi AM, Carosella NW, Fishman E, Kane V, Coffey CE.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe, highly effective, and rapidly acting treatment for certain major psychiatric illnesses, most notably severe mood disorders. Disturbances in mood and behavior as symptoms of delirium may complicate recovery from traumatic brain injury, but virtually no data exist on the role of ECT as a treatment modality in such clinical situations. We describe a patient with severe, unremitting, agitated behavior following a severe closed head injury from a motor vehicle accident. The initial Glasgow Coma Scale score was 3, with computed tomographic evidence of bilateral frontal and left thalamic contusions. After awakening from a 21-day coma, the patient failed to improve beyond a Ranchos Los Amigos level 4 recovery stage. He exhibited persistent severe agitation with vocal outbursts and failed to assist in performing activities of daily living. His difficulties proved unresponsive to combined behavioral therapy and multiple trials of various psychopharmacologic agents. As an intervention of “last resort,” he then received six brief-pulse, bilateral ECT treatments that resulted in marked lessening of his agitation and improvement in his ability to express his needs and participate in his self-care. Also, following the ECT, he showed a markedly enhanced response to psychopharmacologic agents. These findings may have important clinical implications for treatment of prolonged delirium after traumatic brain injury. Convuls Ther. 1995 Mar;11(1):45-50