bcaas-handoutThe BART Foundation aims to promote better outcomes for brain injury survivors by answering three questions – Which alternative therapies are likely to work, where can they be found, and how can they be afforded? One of the ways we fulfill our mission is by carefully watching global research and clinical trial outcomes and sharing that information, in user-friendly language, with the TBI/ABI community. While branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) therapy is not one of the treatments the BART Foundation currently advocates for, it is an area worthy of attention and consideration for those with TBI/ABI.

BCAAs are essential amino acids that must be obtained through one’s diet, usually from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy. BCAA supplements have traditionally been used by those seeking to increase athletic performance. BCAAs are safe and naturally occurring, and reviews of current clinical trials suggest that their use may improve outcomes for TBI survivors. Preliminary pre-clinical and clinical studies indicate improved outcomes may result from BCCA supplementation for survivors of severe TBI. Cognition and sleep difficulties are two areas in which BCAA supplementation is seen as especially promising. More studies are needed, but BCAAs are clearly an emerging therapy worth keeping on our watch list. We will certainly be on the lookout for additional clinical trials.

The full article was originally published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, and the abstract, results, and conclusion can be viewed online. Full-text access requires a subscription.