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Cannabis in the Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury: A Primer for Clinicians

  • Karl Grenier (a1), Fallon Ponnambalam (a1), David Lee (a1), Rebecca Lauwers (a1) and Shree Bhalerao (a1)...

Abstract:

Our clinical experience at a specialized brain injury clinic suggests that numerous patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are using cannabis to alleviate their symptoms. While this patient population often inquires about the evidence of using cannabis post-head injury for the neurosensory, neurocognitive, and neuropsychiatric sequelae, most health professionals have little to no knowledge of this evidence. Given the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, questions and guidance related to cannabis use following a TBI are likely to become more common. This article reviews the evidence for cannabis use in psychiatric disorders with or without TBI. Overall, we found that the evidence for the use of cannabis among TBI patients is sparse and that patients tend to have little knowledge of the proven benefits and diverse effects of cannabis use. We feel this paper can serve as a stepping stone for future studies that explore the impact of cannabis use in a TBI population and can guide clinicians in advising their patients.

Cannabis et traitement des traumatismes cranio-cérébraux: les prémices de son utilisation par les médecins cliniciens. Notre expérience clinique au sein d’un établissement spécialisé dans les traumatismes cranio-cérébraux (TCC) nous incline à penser que de nombreux patients victimes de tels traumatismes consomment du cannabis pour soulager leurs symptômes. Bien que ces patients tentent fréquemment de s’informer quant aux bienfaits du cannabis, notamment en ce qui concerne leurs séquelles neurosensorielles, neurocognitives et neuropsychiatriques, la plupart des professionnels de la santé n’ont que peu, voire aucune connaissance, à ce sujet. Compte tenu de la récente légalisation de la consommation récréative du cannabis au Canada, il est à prévoir que des questions et des conseils en lien avec l’utilisation du cannabis à la suite d’un TCC vont devenir monnaie courante. Cet article entend passer en revue les preuves liant le cannabis au soulagement de troubles psychiatriques, et ce, que des patients aient été victimes ou non de TCC. De façon générale, nous avons constaté que les preuves de l’utilisation du cannabis par des patients victimes de TCC sont rares. Nous avons aussi noté que ces patients ont tendance à avoir des connaissances limitées quant aux bénéfices avérés et aux divers effets du cannabis. Bref, nous sommes d’avis que cet article pourrait servir de tremplin à l’élaboration d’études dont le but serait d’explorer les conséquences de l’utilisation du cannabis chez des patients ayant été victimes de TCC. Nous croyons aussi que cet article pourrait permettre aux médecins cliniciens de mieux guider leurs patients.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Shree Bhalerao, Department of Psychiatry, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Email: bhaleraos@smh.ca

References

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Cannabis in the Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury: A Primer for Clinicians

  • Karl Grenier (a1), Fallon Ponnambalam (a1), David Lee (a1), Rebecca Lauwers (a1) and Shree Bhalerao (a1)...

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