It is easy to forget how little we know about brain injuries, including the common concussion, more accurately referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). With the constant coverage and discoveries being made in prevention and treatment of brain injuries, it is natural to assume that we thoroughly understand the injury we are looking to treat.
However, there are actually quite a few gaps in our understanding of how a brain injury occurs and the biological response that follows, but researchers are continuing to find new information that is constantly shaping how we respond to mild brain injuries.
One such discovery, published in BMJ Open, recently helped give insight into how different symptoms of mTBI heal at different rates, and may actually be independent of each other. Specifically, the team found that recovery from sleep disturbance following mTBI most often occurs more quickly than recovery from anxiety or depression.
The research team suggests “sleep disturbance may be an independent symptom of mTBI that alters the circadian rhythm.” But, they also concede that sleep disturbance may also “simply be a symptom of depression or anxiety that improves early during the recovery.”
The study compared 100 patients with mTBI against 137 healthy control patients. The researchers saw that the mTBI patients still had significantly worse levels of anxiety and depression by the sixth week of recovery compared to the control group. However, the sleep quality of the mTBI patients had become no different from the healthy participants.
Diminished sleep quality is one of the most commonly reported symptoms following an mTBI, and depression and anxiety are also prevalent,” researcher Chaur-Jong Hu and colleagues from Taipei Medical University, Taiwan noted.
“Although long-term observational studies are required to confirm our findings, our results provide valuable information for understanding the development and recovery of mental disorders following an mTBI,” concluded the team.