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Sleep therapy offers treatment potential for brain injury

Better sleep patterns have long been recognized as an important marker of stronger cognitive function. A study suggests that victims of brain trauma in Pennsylvania may soon see restoration of normal sleep patterns as a therapeutic tool for recovery. The peer-reviewed study published in Neurology began with recognition of two facts by the researchers. Loss of cognitive function happens alongside disrupted sleep patterns, and normal patterns are "necessary for the generation of new neurons and new connections between neurons in the brain."

The study looked at 30 participants two to four weeks after their diagnosis of a brain injury. A baseline test was accompanied by use of a device that tracked the participant's sleep patterns. The results of this early test revealed a strong correlation between recovery from brain trauma and establishment of normal sleep. An accompanying editorial in the journal noted verification in other research for the essential nature of sleep in recovery of brain function.

The study author suggested the possibility that sleep allowed for better test performance, which could be distinct from the healing of brain damage. Sleep could be used therapeutically to spur faster healing of brain damage. Suggestions included exposure of patients to sunlight during the day to re-establish circadian rhythms and providing more optimal night conditions.

Pennsylvania residents who suffer brain trauma can face a number of expensive and dangerous outcomes. The family may be faced with the anguish of their loved one being in a coma. The patient could also be placed on long-term care for permanent disability. Symptoms of brain damage can be intermittent as well, allowing a more normal life while requiring ongoing treatment. If the injury was the result of the negligence of another party, such as a car accident caused by a speeding or impaired driver, then legal counsel could be of assistance in seeking compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

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