What role does sleep play after a brain injury? Is it restorative, protective or a consequence of the injury?
Last week, scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the University of Arizona-Phoenix College of Medicine released a new study regarding the relationship between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and sleepiness.
After a traumatic brain injury, some individuals may become excessively sleepy. Some cannot sleep at all. The reason for the different responses is not well understood, according to Matthew Troester, DO, a neurologist and sleep specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
According to Troester, the research breaks new ground in offering observations of sleep patterns immediately after a TBI. The subjects in the study slept immediately post-injury, no matter how serious the injury was or what time of day it occurred. “This tells us that the brain is reacting to the injury in a very specific manner,” says Troester.
Ultimately, the hope is to discover the role of sleep in helping the brain to heal.
Historically, health professionals and the general public advised against allowing a patient with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to fall asleep; or the patient was allowed to sleep for only a few hours at a time. The fear was that sleep could increase the risk of coma.
More recent findings conclude that there is no medical evidence to support the restraint of sleep after TBI. However, clinical studies support the claim that TBI can contribute to sleep problems, including chronic sleep disturbances as well as excessive daytime sleepiness.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix hope to partner on a variety of research projects aimed at preventing, curing and treating childhood diseases and injuries.
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