Medical treatment studies of brain fatigue have only been done to a very limited extent and only a few drugs have been evaluated. Here, we will briefly report on our experience with two drugs. Future research can hopefully provide more knowledge about treatment options. More detailed information about our studies can be found in the research articles published (see further under Research).
For approximately six years, we have worked on a research project to study methylphenidate treatment in people suffering from brain fatigue following a traumatic brain injury. We cannot comment on how it can work in other diseases or conditions.
A careful medical assessment must always be made before starting the treatment. There are diseases and conditions when methylphenidate is not appropriate. Treatment requires solid experience and close contact with the patient.
When the treatment produces a positive effect, the brain fatigue can be alleviated. It enhances the patient’s wellbeing and cognitive function. No increase in working hours was feasible, but many reported that they could continue to work at a certain level and participate in social activities. It is important to remember that methylphenidate does not work for everyone and that a dosage adapted to the individual is very important.
Methylphenidate is not a cure for brain fatigue. A lack of energy will remain, even if it will be on a lower level. The person must continue to use energy saving strategies.
Treatment with methylphenidate, when the brain fatigue becomes prolonged or chronic, should not produce side effects but enhance quality of life. Therefore, adjusting the individual dose and careful follow-up of the patient is very important.
It is noteworthy that methylphenidate is currently the only approved treatment for ADHD/ADD. More research is needed before methylphenidate can be used for brain fatigue.
The dopamine stabilizer OSU6162
In two studies, one pilot study and one follow-up study, we have investigated the effect of OSU6162 (not available on the market) for brain fatigue. Half of the participants suffered from brain fatigue after a traumatic brain injury and half after stroke. Brain fatigue was the participants’ central concern. We found that it is possible to reduce brain fatigue for some, but it did not work for everyone. OSU6162 appears to be a milder substance compared to methylphenidate.