Children With Traumatic Brain Injury Experience Persistent Sleep Problems

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A small study presented at SLEEP 2015 shows that children who have endured traumatic brain injuries are likely to experience more disturbed sleep patterns and more daytime sleepiness even months after their injury.

SLEEP 2015 is the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.


Sleeping Child
Kimberly Allen, RN, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at the Center for Narcolepsy, Sleep and Health Research at the University of Illinois-Chicago explained children with brain injuries scored a mean 8.1 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale on the basis of parental report at least a month after the injury, compared to a mean score of 4.9 in a control group of uninjured children.

“The children with traumatic brain injury had significantly more daytime sleepiness,” Allen reported.

On the Child Sleep Wake Scale, children with traumatic brain injury scored a mean of 3.58 compared to a mean of 4.61 among the healthy children.

The children with brain injury also scored low on the PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales with a mean 62.12 compared with a mean score of 87.75 in the control group, Allen told MedPage Today. Higher scores on this test are linked with improved sleep quality.

For the study, Allen’s team enrolled parents of children between the ages of 3 and 16, with a mean age of 11.3, who had experienced a brain injury who had experienced a brain injury at least 1 month prior, but not more than 36 months before. Mean injury time was approximately 18 months. These children were compared against 15 healthy, normally developing children acting as controls.

The majority of children with TBI were hospitalized for at least a week, required rehabilitation, and needed help with school.

“All these reports are from parents, and we did not ask parents how the child got the brain injury,” Allen said. She said that she did not believe that these children were victims of in-home abuse that caused the injuries.

“As hypothesized, children with traumatic brain injury had increased daytime sleepiness, poorer sleep quality, and poorer functional status compared to healthy, typically developing matched controls based on parent report surveys,” Allen said.

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