Recovery from vegetative state of six months' duration associated with Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa)

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1990 Dec;71(13):1081-3.


Certain pharmacologic interventions may improve outcome for brain injury in animals and humans. Medications affecting the dopaminergic pathway appear to be important. We present the case of a 24-year-old man with traumatic brain injury who remained unresponsive to commands and unchanged for six months despite periodic aggressive therapy. Within days of beginning Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa), the patient became conversant and responsive. The reported low likelihood of spontaneous recovery of cognition in patients who are vegetative for six months suggests that Sinemet was responsible for this patient's recovery. In this case, the relatively small risk of side effects from Sinemet was greatly outweighed by the change in functional outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Carbidopa / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition
  • Coma / drug therapy*
  • Coma / etiology
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • carbidopa, levodopa drug combination
  • Levodopa
  • Carbidopa