CNS Drugs, May 2019

The Effect of Non-Gabapentinoid Anticonvulsants on Sensorimotor Recovery After Human Spinal Cord Injury.

Warner FM, Jutzeler CR, Cragg JJ, Tong B, Grassner L, Bradke F, Geisler F, Kramer JK



Recent observational studies have shown an association between gabapentinoid anticonvulsants and greater motor recovery after spinal cord injury. There is preclinical evidence to suggest that other anticonvulsants, such as sodium channel blockers, may also confer beneficial effects.


The aim of the current study was to determine if non-gabapentinoid anticonvulsants were associated with neurological recovery after acute, traumatic spinal cord injury.


This was an observational cohort study using data from the Sygen clinical trial. The primary outcome was total motor score recovery in the first year after injury. Anticonvulsant use was extracted from concomitant medication records; individuals were classified based on early administration (within 30 days of injury), or late/no administration. Motor recovery was compared using linear mixed effects regression models with a drug-by-time interaction, and adjustment for confounders. A secondary analysis incorporated a propensity score matched cohort.


Of the cohort (n = 570), 6% received anticonvulsants (carbamazepine, phenytoin, clonazepam, phenobarbital, and valproic acid) early after injury. After adjustments for initial injury level and severity, early exposure to non-gabapentinoid anticonvulsants was not associated with motor neurological outcomes (p = 0.38 for all anticonvulsants, p = 0.83 for sodium channel blockers, p = 0.82 in propensity-matched cohort).


Non-gabapentinoid anticonvulsant exposure was not associated with greater or lesser neurological recovery. This suggests that these medications, as administered for the acute management of spinal cord injury, do not impact long-term neurological outcomes.


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