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Researchers look into relationship between brain injury and sleep

There are certain homegrown medical wisdoms that are passed down through generations. Many residents of Maricopa, Arizona, have probably heard the advice about not letting those with a concussion sleep for prolonged periods. Recent research, including work conducted at the University of Arizona, may change the way individuals and medical professionals think about brain injury and sleep.

The study did not provide medical evidence to back the idea that it was dangerous for a person with a concussion to sleep. The study, which was a collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Arizona and the Phoenix Children's Hospital, noted that individuals slept similarly and immediately following head injuries, regardless of the time of day the injury occurred or the severity of the injury.

One researcher stated that the findings indicate the brain reacts in a specific manner to injury, but the role of sleep in the injury or recovery is not quite understood. A neurologist for the Children's Hospital stated that little is known about sleep in the acute stage of brain injury. The acute stage is the time immediately following an injury.

Other clinical studies have shown that sleep in the days, weeks and months following an injury vary in each situation. Some individuals sleep more than ever before after injury. Others experience long-term problems with sleep. The neurologist says injury types and mechanism of injury aren't the same in these cases and cannot be used to account for the variation in sleep after injuries.

The fact that most acute stages involve immediate sleep does provide researchers with additional information and a starting point for understanding. It's clear there is a relationship between sleep and brain injury, but researchers are working to figure out if sleep is a byproduct of injury or a restorative action from the body.

As research into brain injury is conducted, it's likely new information regarding treatment will be discovered. Physicians are responsible for keeping up with new information and warnings. Patients who are injured or experience poor results because a physician was not aware of warnings or new research may have a claim for compensation for any damages sustained.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Research explores link between traumatic brain injury and sleep" No author given, Jan. 27, 2014

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