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Deep sleep may be key to protecting brain after a TBI

Pennsylvania residents who have incurred traumatic brain injuries or whose loved ones have might be interested in research that suggests the effects of head trauma might be reduced if the patient is put into a deep sleep afterwards. Scientists divided 25 rats who had suffered a blow to the prefontal cortex into three groups and gave one a placebo, gently kept another group awake, and gave a narcolepsy drug called sodium oxybate to the third group to induce slow-wave brain function.

The latter two groups both tested better than the group given the placebo. Previous research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to the same slow-wave brain function that the drugs induced. The two groups did better on cognition tests for both memory and object recognition. The rats in the two slow-wave brain function groups also had lower levels of amyloid precursor protein. This is a type of protein that helps to detect brain injury.

The results, conducted by scientists in Switzerland, were published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Some researchers caution that the study is not conclusive regarding how humans might react in similar circumstances. However, it does represent a fruitful line of potential TBI treatments, and this may help professional football players and others who might be at risk for long-term damage from concussions.

A brain injury can be catastrophic and can happen in a variety of circumstances. For example, a person might sustain a TBI in a car accident. Even though this can be life-changing, the insurance company of the driver who is responsible might not offer much compensation. The injured person might be faced with both medical bills and extensive lifestyle changes and may want to have the assistance of an attorney in receiving a more just award.

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