Children’s poor sleep after concussion point to lower brain function: Aussie research

Sleep problems, fatigue and attention difficulties in the weeks after a child suffers concussion injuries could mean reduced brain function, according to a latest Australian research.

Researchers from the University of Queensland studied via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that scans children’s persistent concussion symptoms and their link to poorer recovery outcomes in the patients, finding that “poor sleep was linked to decreases in brain grey matter and reduced brain function,” the university’s research fellow Dr. Kartik Iyer said in a statement late Friday.

“Identifying decreases in brain function can allow us to predict if a child will recover properly,” Iyer said.

“This knowledge can help clinicians ensure a child receives targeted rehabilitation such as cognitive behavior therapy, medication to improve sleep, or safe and new emerging therapies such as non-invasive brain stimulation to potentially reduce symptoms.”

The researchers were able to predict with 86 percent accuracy how decreases in brain function impacted recovery two months post-concussion, according to the university.

“Generally, children with persistent concussion symptoms will have alterations to their visual, motor and cognitive brain regions but we don’t have a clear understanding of how this develops and how it relates to future recovery,” Iyer said.

“It can have a serious impact on their return to normal activities, including time away from school, difficulties with memory and attentiveness, disturbances to sleeping habits and changes to mood — all of which affect healthy brain development.”

Most children recover fully after a concussion, but one in 10 has persistent symptoms, the research published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology scientific journal showed.

“It is critical that children who receive a head injury see a doctor and get professional medical advice soon after their injury has occurred,” Iyer said.

“While playing sports or riding bicycles or scooters, children should wear proper protective head gear to minimize the impact of a head injury.”

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