Paroxysmal Sympathetic Hyperactivity in Pediatric Rehabilitation: Clinical Factors and Acute Pharmacological Management

Marco Pozzi, Valentino Conti, Federica Locatelli, Sara Galbiati, Sonia Radice, Giuseppe Citerio, Emilio Clementi, Sandra Strazzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Paroxysmal sympathetic hyperactivity (PSH) is widely described as occurring during intensive care, but in a number of patients it may last longer into the rehabilitation phase. Furthermore, drug therapy has been based on isolated observations. In this study, our aims are to describe a group of 26 pediatric rehabilitation patients with PSH and to quantify the effect of several drugs used to suppress PSH episodes. Setting: Neurorehabilitation unit of IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini (LC), Italy. Participants: A total of 407 pediatric patients with postacute acquired brain injury, 26 of which had PSH. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Main Measures: Descriptive demographic and clinical data. Odds ratios quantification of the efficacy of drug therapies administered acutely to suppress PSH episodes. Results: PSH was associated with a longer duration of coma and a greater incidence of death. When administered acutely to suppress PSH episodes, the best drugs were clonazepam, hydroxyzine, and delorazepam, while analgesic drugs showed little efficacy. Conclusions: PSH, whether causative or not, is associated with a worse long-term course in rehabilitation. Clinical management of PSH may be helped by a number of acutely administered drug therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 25 2015


  • drug therapy
  • dysautonomia
  • paroxysmal sympathetic hyperactivity
  • pediatric
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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