Uninterrupted Sleep May Advance Healing in Patients with TBI
What is the best prescription for a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? It may be a pattern of uninterrupted sleep.
A 2016 study published in Neurology showed a link between brain function and sleep quality in TBI patient health. In a quote from a recent NPR article, Nadia Gosselin, assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of Montreal, and one of the study’s authors, referenced the biological process of neuron regeneration as a possible factor in TBI recovery. “We know that sleep is necessary for the generation of new neurons and new connections between neurons in the brain,” she said. Interestingly, research data from Alzheimer’s studies also suggest that sleep is necessary for brain health because it helps rid the brain of toxins.
The findings in this study showed that as the brain heals, sleep patterns also improve. Gosselin’s theory is that it could work just as well in reverse order, i.e., if sleep patterns are normalized on a 24 hour cycle, neuron repair would be accelerated. Supporting this theory is an earlier study showing a link between cognitive rest and TBI symptoms.
If Gosselin is right, using non-invasive sleep therapy or meds to induce sleep early in the treatment of TBI may result in better outcomes for patients injured in car accidents, concussive episodes, hypoxia events, or stroke.