Can the Drugs Namenda and Aricept Help After Brain Injury?

Can the Drugs, Namenda and Aricept, Help After Brain Injury?

Can the drugs Namenda and Aricept help people who have a TBI? What do you think about using off-label drugs to treat the symptoms of brain injury?


Donepezil (Aricept) and memantine (Namenda) are FDA-approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia. Aricept works by increasing a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine that is important for memory and learning. Namenda blocks a chemical in the brain called glutamate.

Several studies have evaluated Aricept for memory problems after traumatic brain injury and have found it effective. Namenda has fewer studies but there is also some evidence it may give help with memory disorders after traumatic brain injury. The studies showed, however, that the benefits of both medications were more evident in people with more severe impairment. Neither took away the memory problems but in some people, the drugs improved memory, learning, and behavior. Both medications have side effects that need to be monitored by a medical professional. These medications can have a role as part of a comprehensive treatment program for memory, attention, concentration, mood and behavior.

Posted on BrainLine September 10, 2014.

Comments (33)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

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I suffer from severe tbi I am doing better and improving significantly physically. Would this help my memory problems? If so, how long would it take?

My father is 60 years old. He had a brain surgery and there was a tumour that needed to be removed. It was meningioma and it was non malignant. Now it's been 2 years after his surgery. He has difficulty in thinking and focus on things. Should he take aricept for that?

My 19 yro Son had a severe anoxic brain injury approximately 18 months ago. Spending nearly 3 months in ICU he finally returned home. His recovery has been a miracle to this point. Lingering issue is short term memory loss. While it is improving ever so slowly we wonder if medication may assist?

Don c.

My 31 yt old son has anoxic braon damage... hes been in the icu and step doqn unit for almost 12 weeks... He has been posturing and neurostorming... sores runbed onnhis feet and other areas... mayni ask if your son did the same?;if so, how long before it stopped... drs are wanting us to agree to withhold tube feeding and let him go... not an easy decision....

My son 23 had severe TBI 2007. He was in coma for about 2 months and had to learn everything from infant stage all over again - eat, talk, walk etc. Couple of years of intense therapy and starting Aricept and Namenda, made a huge difference. 3 years after the accident he was selfsuffient and lives now on his own. My question is, can he ever get off the meds? Any studies on that?

I had an (extremely) severe TBI in 2005. I started using aricept in 2006 and used it for 8 years.
While it initially made a relatively significant difference to my short term memory, over time as my memory, attention and concentration improved, the difference that aricept made became less.
The aricept cost me $3,000 a year, but for myself it was worth every cent.

My neurologist prescribed donezapril about 10 months out from a "mild" concussion with moderate PCS. I stopped after a week due to it worsening my insomnia. My symptoms increase drastically when I am sleep-deprived. I'm so glad it works for others.

Insomnia here too. Concussion 12 years ago and Aricept ever since. Don't know if insomnia due to Aricept or concussion. Do you think insomnia caused by Aricept?

I have a patient who suffered a brain injury many years ago who already had issues with insomnia. Her wake sleep cycles we're very inconsistent. She's been using donepezil for several months and while I don't see an improvement in her sleep cycles I also don't see any increase in her inability to sleep.
It has been reported by others though who use Aricept that it affects their ability to sleep.

My daughter suffered a concussions 2 years ago with lasting short term memory problems. Her Dr. prescribed her Aricept and it has worked wonders for her.

Hi you said your daughter got better with her short term memory.... what changes did you see if I may ask? My son was in a horrible car accident and has short term memory loss, they just prescribed medication.
Thank you

Im so happy to hear this! I have a TBI from a car accident and I have suffered so much not only pain but my memory is so bad today a dr gave me a prescription for namenda I'm hoping and praying it helps without any horrible side effects.

Has medication worked, my son was in a bad car accident as well ...

Yes! My son has been on aricept and namenda for 13 years since his accident. Still has problems but able to live alone work and drive and has a social life. We are afraid to stop the meds in case of regression.

My daughter was in a car accident in 2012 and suffered from TBI
Her short term memory was really affected, there was some improvement over the years, but it is still a big challenge for her. If I start these tablets,Aricept,would it help now 6 yrs after accident?

Yes. It helped my husband even though we started it 5 years after his most serious TBI.

This is promising to hear this if that makes any sense sometimes I can't find the right words but I'm a 53 yr old woman and my car accident was im 2001 I think where I was ejected out of my vehicle dr told me my memory was as good as it would ever be so accept it! I just now found out that's not true with help and hopefully this medication ill get better one of the issues im having is recognizing faces its so scary and my short term memory is awful. What about side effects have you had any that are really bad?

Have you had any success? Car wreck 15 years ago. Just got a script for it today. I'm a little nervous.

Has it helped you? I asked my neurologist about these meds today and he prescribed it. I’ll start tomorrow. I’m so excited!!!!

More than a comment I have a consideration to make, that's about the ability of these two meds that can reduce the neuroinflammation and may therefore help physical impediments too, like after a brain trauma, however - like everything in medicine - I'm hoping to try their use to know for sure if brain inflammation reduction helps physical impairments.

TBI left me with some cognitive and mood issues. Aricept is a godsend. It helps me connect the dots, lifts my mental fog, and let's me be productive, all while filling me with motivation and focus. It also helps with my impulsive urges, which I've not seen literature about, but eh, it works for me.

I had electric shock therapy twelve years ago. I had severe short term memory issues. As well as significant cognition issues. Aricept was a miracle treatment for me. I would say I'm 85% better. So grateful my doctor suggested it. I also have much more energy and alertness although I have developed some trouble sleeping.

I suffered a brain injury back in 2009. I've noticed some cognitive issues that don't allow me to remember events that happened yesterday, find words, problem solve, and follow a story/directions properly. These symptoms are more apparent now that I'm on ADHD medication, and can retain focus, but it seems my brain doesn't work accurately. Will these medications work for me?

My husband had a brain injury in 1998. His memory has been getting worse, no enthusiasm for anything. He was given Aricept after attending a memory clinic and it has changed him completely. His short term memory is not perfect but much improved. He had stopped sleeping during the day and has got some interest back in his hobbies.

I was assaulted and sustained a severe concussion, left frontal with contra coup injury, leading left leg/arm weakness, memory loss, confusion, irritability, attention and cognitive deficits, neuro fatigue amongst other symptoms. Can Namenda help me ? (My injury was 6 months ago. No brain bleed)


UPMC Sports Concussion Clinic can really help with Concussion related fatigue.

I agree. I had an "Event" several years ago, was misdiagnosed as Bipolar, ADHD, Severe Depression, Cognitive Impairment etc.. resulting in years on 13 heavy high dose psychotropic drugs fast forward 2009 added 10mg Aricept  2012 off all above except Aricept little result fastforward 2012 when 23mg Aricept and TBI cognitive rehab.currently tremendous progress now in 2015.  Bottom line, if the physician can't SEE it they will NOT believe it and the patient has to take matters into their own hands (age now 59) finally on a SOLID road of improved impairment (accepting a lower IQ now than my prev IQ of 148).  God's Speed and true grit and tenacity and you too will overcome the odds.

Thanks for your commentary. May I inquire as to the newer IQ score is now, after your TBI? Hoping all is well otherwise. Be well. Please and Thank You.



hey man, do you build a resistance to aricept or not. and what was your "event"

Above: are you sure the brain injury was caused by schizophrenia? I think far more likely the other way round - something happened in her brain that caused the symptoms of acquired brain injury that have become known (if psychiatrists get there first and do no proper tests or scans) as 'schizophrenia'.

My daughter suffered an acquired brain injury secondary to the effects of childhood onset schizophrenia. By the time she was 14 years old, our previously bright and independent daughter could not function beyond that of a 2-5 year old. Her Psychiatrist started her on Aricept in conjunction with anti-psychotic medications. Within six months she was able to return to school part time and gradually full-time. Aricept had a huge impact on her recovery and I truly believe that without it, we would have lost her completely. She is now a happy functioning 25 year old woman.

Is she still on those medications? If not, how long did she take them for?