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Spinal Cord Injury Update

Fall 2008: Volume 17, Number 4



Researchers in the UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Harborview are studying the potential benefit of an antidepressant medication, venlafaxine XR (Effexor XR), as a treatment for common physical and emotional symptoms after SCI. The PRISMS study (Project to Improve Symptoms and Mood after SCI) is a multi-site study funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.  This is a study about whether venlafaxine XR is effective in treating symptoms such as low mood, poor energy, poor sleep, loss of interest in usual activities and also pain in people with SCI. Many antidepressants may help the former symptoms, but only a few seem to have potential to reduce pain, especially neuropathic pain. Modern antidepressants make certain brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine) work more efficiently when a person is under stress by reducing the body’s tendency to reabsorb the chemicals before they have a chance to work. Correcting this “chemical imbalance” is thought to improve the body’s ability to regulate basic functions like sleep, mood and energy while also impacting how pain signals are processed.

For more information about participating in this study, go to the "Participate in Research" page.