Fluoxetine May Improve Post-Stroke Motor Function

The antidepressant shows promise as stroke treatment in those with motor impairments

MONDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with moderate to severe motor deficit who are given the antidepressant fluoxetine shortly after suffering an ischemic stroke may experience improved motor function, according to research published online Jan. 10 in The Lancet Neurology.

To investigate the impact fluoxetine would have on motor recovery when given soon after stroke to patients with motor deficits, François Chollet, M.D., of the Hôpital Purpan in Toulouse, France, and colleagues randomized 118 patients with ischemic stroke and hemiplegia or hemiparesis to fluoxetine or placebo for three months starting five to 10 days after stroke.

Of the 113 patients included in the analysis, the researchers found that those in the fluoxetine group experienced significant Fugl-Meyer motor scale score improvement over the placebo group at 90 days (adjusted mean, 34 versus 24.3 points). The main adverse events in the fluoxetine and placebo groups were hyponatremia (4 percent in both), transient digestive disorders (25 versus 11 percent), hepatic enzyme disorders (9 versus 18 percent), psychiatric disorders (5 versus 7 percent), insomnia (33 versus 36 percent), and partial seizure (<1 versus 0 percent).

"In patients with ischemic stroke and moderate to severe motor deficit, the early prescription of fluoxetine with physiotherapy enhanced motor recovery after three months. Modulation of spontaneous brain plasticity by drugs is a promising pathway for treatment of patients with ischemic stroke and moderate to severe motor deficit," the authors write.

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