Psychopharmacologic treatment of acquired attention disorders in children with brain injury

David M. Mahalick, Peter W. Carmel, John P. Greenberg, Walter Molofsky, Jeffrey A. Brown, Robert F. Heary, David Marks, Edward Zampella, Richard Hodosh, Edward Von der Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This investigation examined the efficacy of psychostimulant therapy in alleviating neurobehavioral dysfunction attendant to pediatric brain injury. The most commonly reported neurobehavioral sequelae associated with head injury in the pediatric population involve deficits along the attentional matrix. This is also the most common objectively documented neurobehavioral finding among children as well as adults. There are several investigations in the adult literature which have employed the use of psychostimulants in treating both psychiatric and neuropsychological residua associated with head injury. Overall, the results of these studies are equivocal, but suggest a beneficial impact on general functioning. The present prospective investigation utilized a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over experimental design to examine the efficacy of methylphenidate in treating children with acquired attentional disorders secondary to brain injury. A cohort of 14 children with varying degrees of head injury were recruited for participation. As expected, differences between drug and placebo conditions uniformly achieved statistical significance. Additionally, there were no differences in performance between baseline and placebo conditions on neurobehavioral tasks of attention and concentration. Current findings suggest that methylphenidate (and probably other psychostimulants such as Cylert, Adderal, Wellbutrin and dextroamphetamine sulfate) is an extremely effective agent in treating attentional disorders secondary to brain injury in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Children
  • Closed head injury
  • Head injury
  • Methylphenidate
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Psychostimulant
  • Ritalin
  • Traumatic brain injury


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