The nature of sleep architecture during post-traumatic amnesia following traumatic brain injury

Sleep disturbance and fatigue are common, persisting consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Disturbances to sleep often emerge in the early stages after TBI and whilst patients are in a temporary confused state of recovery known as post-traumatic amnesia (PTA).

During PTA, individuals commonly experience a disrupted sleep-wake cycle (up to 80% of patients), disorientation, no continuous memory for daily events and uncharacteristic behaviours (such as agitation/restlessness). Post TBI, the elements of sleep that are reported as disrupted include: sleep architecture (stages of sleep), sleep quality and the sleep-wake cycle.

However, sleep is still not routinely assessed during hospital or rehabilitation management. Prior research evaluating sleep disturbance during PTA is therefore limited and most have mainly used indirect or subjective sleep measures rather than the gold-standard assessment – polysomnography (PSG). Therefore, little is known about the nature and extent of sleep disturbance in PTA.

The PhD study aims to provide a foundation in the literature by:

  1. trialling the feasibility of PSG during PTA
  2. evaluating the concordance between PSG and indirect sleep measures (actigraphy) and
  3. evaluating the relationships between common PTA symptoms (e.g. agitation and cognitive disturbance) and sleep disturbance.

Bianca Fedele

Ms. Bianca Fedele – Clinical Research Manager of the Epworth Monash Rehabilitation Medicine (EMReM) Research Unit

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