ADHD Drug Could Improve Brain Function in People with Epilepsy

Posted Jan 5 2017 in Conditions related to epilepsy

Methylphenidate (MPH), a drug used for the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), could improve cognitive problems in people with epilepsy, according to a study published in the scientific journal Neurology.

This suggestion is based on the results of a clinical trial that included 35 adults with epilepsy aged between 20 and 62 years, who had long-standing cognitive complaints, including poor attention and memory. The trial compared the effect of MPH, given in divided doses one week apart, with an identical looking dummy pill. Neither the participants nor the doctors knew who was getting the drug and who was getting the dummy until the trial had ended.

A total of 31 participants completed the trial, of whom 24 had focal epilepsy, six had generalised epilepsy and one had unclassified epilepsy. The average duration of epilepsy among the participants was 12.5 years with an average frequency of 2.8 seizures per month.

The research was led by Dr Kimford Meador, from Stanford University Medical Center in California, and evaluated cognitive function using three different tests. These were the Medical College of Georgia Paragraph Memory Test, the Conners Continuous Performance Test, which assesses attention and vigilance, and the Symbol-Digit Modalities Test, which measures general brain dysfunction. Seizure frequency and adverse effects of MPH were also monitored.

Overall, MPH treatment resulted in a significant improvement in cognitive performance. No change in seizure frequency was observed in any of the participants and only three people withdrew from the trial due to adverse effects. These included “fogginess” in thinking ability, anxiety and agitation, and tachycardia (fast heart rate while at rest).

The authors concluded that MPH may be effective in improving cognitive deficits in people with epilepsy, but they advised that additional studies are needed to confirm this finding.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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