About 1.5 million people in the US sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. Depending on the severity of a TBI, brain injury symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, memory loss, visual disturbances, sleep disorders, dizziness, concentration problems, irritability, seizures, feelings of depression, nausea, sensitivity to sounds and light, loss of smell, mood changes, language problems, delays in mental processing, speech problems, difficulties reading or writing, vision loss, photophobia, hearing loss, tinnitus, nystagmus, seizures, paralysis, spasticity, chronic pain, bowel problems, social-emotional issues, and coma. 80% of TBI patients will be left with permanent, major disabilities.
Now, researchers are shedding more light on the links between TBIs and depression and sleeping problems, respectively. According to a study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 50% of traumatic brain injury survivors have a nearly eight times greater risk of suffering from clinical depression than do members of the general population.
559 TBI patients participated in the study. Within the first year after sustaining their brain injuries, approximately 53% of participants were diagnosed with major depression. Less than 50% of these patients received any treatment for their depression during the first year. Also, TBI patients who were depressed reported a poorer quality of life and experienced greater difficulties functioning.
While sleep problems have long been linked to TBIs, a new study explains why. According to Shantha Rajaratnam, PhD, from Monash University in Australia, brain injury patients don’t produce as much melatonin as do people who aren’t suffering from a TBI. Melatonin regulates sleep. Rajaratnam says that the findings suggest that a TBI may disrupt the structures of the brain that regulate sleep.
Also, brain injury patients that took part in the study spent less time sleeping and woke up more often after initially falling asleep than their counterparts that weren’t suffering from TBIs. Brain injury patients experienced more non-REM sleep.
Washington DC traumatic brain injuries can occur during fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, accidents involving the victim’s head striking or being struck by a hard object, as a result of medical malpractice, or because of other injury accidents that resulted in a direct blow to the head.
Study: Brain injuries tied to trouble sleeping, Physorg.com, May 24, 2010
Traumatic brain injuries linked to depression, Los Angeles TImes, May 24, 2010
Brain Injuries May Lead to Sleep Problems, Web MD, May 24, 2010
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