Treating Paroxysmal Sympathetic Hyperactivity With Enteral Baclofen in Anoxic Brain Injury

Neurologist. 2020 Mar;25(2):24-25. doi: 10.1097/NRL.0000000000000258.


Introduction: Paroxysmal sympathetic hypersensitivity (PSH) has become more frequently recognized in patients with severe neurological brain injury. Left untreated, PSH has been associated with poor neurological outcomes. Currently, most therapeutic options are circumstantial with evidence stemming from subjective case reports.

Case series: Two young females were admitted after cardiac arrest and found to have anoxic brain injury with subsequent PSH. Initial treatment was targeted at relief of the hyperadrenergic symptoms, which included bromocriptine, propranolol, opioids and benzodiazepines. These therapies were minimally effective, and the patients remained comatose. After initiation of enteral baclofen treatment, they exhibited drastic reduction of PSH symptoms and became alert and interactive. After a 6-week hospital stay, they were both discharged to long-term rehabilitation centers.

Conclusion: This case series reviews the current therapies used for PSH and discusses 2 patients with uncontrolled PSH secondary to anoxic brain injury. Both patients arose from coma and had significant symptomatic improvement with enteral baclofen treatment. Thus, enteral baclofen should be considered as a primary treatment for PSH to prevent sustained symptoms and prolonged hospitalizations.

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Baclofen / pharmacology*
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male


  • Baclofen