Prozac helps stroke patients regain motor skills with treatment


Prozac could help stroke patients regain motor function and independence. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The result of a stroke is often very severe and frustrating for patients and their families. A new study shows that with Prozac, stroke patients might regain motor skills faster with treatment. The small study, published in the Lancet, shows a promising new avenue for research.

Prozac for stroke recovery one of many multi-use drugs

After the FDA approves a particular drug for use in the U.S. market, that drug gets a “second life.” Secondary uses for the drug are researched, and this “off label” use is not endorsed by the FDA, but is not prohibited. Drugs that become useful for many different things become known as “multi-use drugs.” Even if some uses are not approved by the FDA, they may be very effective and useful.

Prozac shows stroke patients regaining motor skills

In a small study of 118 stroke patients in France, Prozac appeared to help patients regain motor skills. Half were given Prozac, half were given a placebo. The people in the group given Prozac improved their motor skills and became more independent more quickly. The group also had lower incidences of depression, though that was expected with the known effects of Prozac. Both groups were given physiotherapy, as well as consistent tests of motor function and independence. The people in the group who took placebos improved their test scores by 24.3 points,and the Prozac-takers improved their scores by 34 points, a difference of more than one-third.

How Prozac for stroke recovery may work

The study connecting Prozac to stroke recovery does not conjecture as to why, exactly, the drugs do work. Prozac is one of the class of drugs known as SSRI drugs – Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. It is theorized that SSRI drugs help rebuild the neural pathways that are damaged during a stroke. The serotonin receptors are not specifically responsible for motor functions, but a healing brain may use the re-uptake inhibitors as a way to circumvent damaged neural pathways.


National Post

Other recent posts by bryanh