Cognitive Impairment in Trigeminal Neuralgia

Following a Learning Day for members of the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK held at The University of Leeds last year, the hosts from the Cognitive Psychology Department, together with colleagues from Sheffield University and UCLH, set up a project to determine the cognitive and motor effects on patients taking drugs prescribed for TN. It is well known and documented that there are severe side-effects from such drugs as carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine and others which result in patients being unable to think clearly or, as one sufferer put it, being ‘zombified’. Several volunteers from TNA UK have agreed to take part in a study using a series of tests which are displayed on a tablet computer coupled with oral questioning by the researcher. Over the period of the study, the researcher will also spend some time at UCLH with Professor Zakrzewska reviewing the results of her findings with regard to her own patients. Patients will do these tests when on a high dosage of these drugs and then again after they have stopped them – either because surgery has been successful or because they have gone into a remission period. This will improve understanding of the effects of these drugs and highlight the need for potentially newer drugs that result in fewer cognitive side effects.