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Better sleep could mean a better outcome for brain injuries

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident or through some other means, you may want to consider discussing any sleep problems with a doctor sooner rather than later. A recent study indicates that sleep and recovery go hand-in-hand when it comes to brain injuries.

The study opens the door to new possibilities in post-traumatic brain injury care that could help patients recover more of their ability to function faster, especially in those critical first few months after the injury occurs when the brain seems to be more adaptable.

Researchers say that the study highlights how necessary sleep is for the generation of new neurons and new connections in the brain between those neurons. Possible new ideas for treatment include treating patients with brain disorders for sleep disorders, using either drugs or mechanical exposure to light and dark to encourage a strong corresponding waking/sleeping schedule.

Researchers also point out the obvious implications of the study: Poor sleep after a brain injury can lead to a poorer outcome for the patient.

Traumatic brain injuries can result in severe cognitive issues, including problems with attention, concentration, memory, confusion, impulsiveness and personality changes. Emotional challenges like depression, anxiety, and irritability are not uncommon. Depending on the part of the brain affected, sufferers can also have problems with speech and language comprehension, vision loss, hearing loss, and other sensory difficulties.

Studies like these point out the need for a comprehensive approach to the medical needs of traumatic brain injury victim -- something that can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in medical expenses over the course of treatment. Even a short hospital stay can run thousands of dollars.If the victim of a traumatic brain injury has to go into rehabilitative care at a nursing home the cost can be astronomical.

That makes it important to try to get appropriate compensation for any traumatic brain injury that occurs as the result of someone else's negligence. The compensation can help provide services that insurance may not be willing to cover, especially if it isn't yet established as a standard treatment for brain injuries, like concurrent sleep care.

Anyone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else's negligence should consider contacting an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of a case.

Source: NPR, "As Sleep Improves, So Does An Injured Brain," Jon Hamilton, Dec. 21, 2016

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