“Most people fully recover from their problems after a short time, but some individuals suffer long-term problems that affect their quality of life, work, and school,” says PhD candidate researcher Simen Berg Saksvik from the Department of Psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Patients with concussions were compared to two control groups: patients with different sorts of injuries that did not affect the head and healthy volunteers.

“We discovered that problems including increased sleep requirement, poor sleep quality, daytime drowsiness, and exhaustion happened considerably more frequently and lasted much longer after concussions than after other types of injuries,” Berg Saksvik explained.

Two weeks after injury, 136 of the 136 participants in this study had a sleep or daytime difficulty. 72 patients, or 53%, developed issues that lasted three months or more.

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The study is unusual on a global scale due to its magnitude and level of patient follow-up.

The study adds to existing knowledge while also being therapeutically relevant to a significant number of patients. It is critical to understand how people who experience symptoms after a concussion differ from those who heal on their own.

“Sleep disorders are frequently related with conditions such as poor memory, difficulty concentrating, depression, and anxiety. “Treating sleep disorders as soon as feasible, such as following a concussion, may help slow or prevent the development of such problems,” Berg Saksvik says.

Alexander Olsen is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and a neuropsychologist at St. Olavs Hospital’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic. Olsen sees patients with long-term problems as a result of concussions in his clinical job at the hospital.

The clinic’s major purpose is to lessen concussion symptoms and raise the functional level of patients who have such ailments.

“At the moment, we don’t have a standard treatment that we know works for all individuals with long-term pain after a concussion,” Olsen adds.

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One of the reasons is that we don’t understand why some people get post-concussion symptoms while others do not. Another factor is that patients frequently have many illnesses at the same time, making it difficult to determine what is related to what.

We should probably cease treating all concussion patients the same way.

“It might be more reasonable to administer medication that is known to be successful for the many specific ailments, such as headaches, sleep issues, anxiety, and so on, independent of the cause,” Olsen says.

The findings also suggest that factors that directly affect our brain health play a role in the development of sleep disorders, and that the symptoms persist for an extended period of time.

The researchers will investigate which underlying processes can explain these sleep-brain health connections.

“Then we’ll be able to provide better, more personalised follow-up and treatment,” Olsen says.

Olsen finds it fascinating that sleep issues, in particular, are so widespread after a concussion and appear to linger so long for many individuals.

“More effective treatment options for sleep difficulties have steadily been created, but these haven’t been studied systematically to any degree in this patient population. In other patient groups, research has shown that if we are successful in treating sleep disorders, patients will experience relief from other ailments such as concentration difficulties, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression, even though they aren’t the primary focus of the treatment,” he says.

The researchers are hopeful that this will help many individuals who have had concussions. As a result, the research team is organising a new treatment trial for patients with sleep disorders in partnership with St. Olavs Hospital’s Sleep and Chronotherapy Group and NTNU’s Department of Mental Health.

New discoveries could also benefit other patients suffering from sleep difficulties, such as those suffering from mental and neurological illnesses.

According to new research, both concussions and sleep disorders may be connected to inflammation of the brain and the rest of the body. This can have an effect on brain health over time.

“Now we’re going to look into biological explanatory theories for sleep disorders utilising brain imaging and blood tests collected from these people,” Berg Saksvik said.

MRI imaging can reveal if there are any changes in the brain that are linked to sleep issues.

“One advantage is that we have MRI scans taken at various points following injury. This allows us to analyse how these images evolve over time,” Berg Saksvik said.

The preliminary findings were made possible by interdisciplinary collaboration between NTNU institutes and the clinical setting at St. Olav’s hospital.

Toril Skandsen, associate professor and chief physician at Trondheim University Hospital, leads the Trondheim mild traumatic brain injury follow-up study, from which the data is drawn.

The patients who participated in the trial were thanked by the researchers.

(With Inputs From ANI)



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