Brain injury is one of the biggest causes of disability in the United States. A new study found that a common drug can limit brain damage from a head injury. Researchers in the global study looked at 12,000 patients who had a traumatic brain injury. 

Because TBI often happens in a car accident, this treatment has the potential to prevent disability. A medical journal called The Lancet published the results in October 2019. 

The study 

Doctors in 29 countries gave TBI patients a medicine called tranexamic acid. This drug keeps blood clots from bleeding into the brain. Half of the patients received TXA through an IV within three hours of a head injury. The other half received a placebo. 

TXA is already used to treat bleeding in the stomach or chest. Doctors thought this treatment could also help the brain in TBI cases. 

The results 

Patients who received TXA were 20% less likely to die than those who did not get the treatment. The drug worked best for patients with mild to moderate TBI. TXA did not cause side effects in study participants. Doctors did not find that it increased disability. 

Giving the drug quickly is important. It cannot reverse existing brain damage, only prevent more damage. The study found that every 20 minutes of delayed treatment decreased effectiveness by 10%. 

The benefits 

About 69,000 people worldwide suffer a TBI each year. Study authors think this treatment, which is the first of its kind, could save hundreds of thousands of TBI victims. It may also spark research for other new TBI drugs. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that up to 70% of TBIs happen in auto accidents. Protect yourself and others on the road with safe driving habits. For example, avoid texting and driving. If you or a loved one has a head injury, go right to the emergency room.