Research Reports - Sleep disturbance in children with traumatic brain injury compared with children with orthopedic injury

Bogdanov, Stefan, DCP/MSc; Brookes, Naomi, MPsych (Clinical); Epps, Adrienne, MBBS; Naismith, Sharon L., PhD; Teng, Arthur, MBBS; Lah, Suncica, PhD

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: July 24, 2018

Objectives: To characterize the sleep disturbance in children with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and to identify associated factors.

Setting: An urban tertiary pediatric healthcare facility.

Participants: Children aged 5 to 15 years with a moderate TBI (n = 21), severe TBI (n = 23), or an orthopedic injury (OI; n = 38) comparable in age, gender, and socioeconomic status.

Design: Cohort study.

Measures: Primary: Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC). Secondary: Injury-specific factors (TBI severity, age at injury, and time since injury), and other factors of interest (sleep hygiene; pain intensity; difficulties with internalizing, externalizing, or attention/hyperactivity; parental distress; and parental knowledge of TBI).

Results: On the SDSC, parents rated children with moderate TBI (but not severe TBI) as experiencing greater overall sleep disturbance, as well as excessive somnolence and sleep breathing disturbance, relative to OI controls. Children with severe TBI (but not moderate TBI) were rated as experiencing greater disturbance with initiating and maintaining sleep. The moderate and severe TBI groups did not differ on any of the sleep outcomes. Only 3 factors were associated with sleep disturbance in the combined TBI group: (1) lower TBI severity with greater excessive somnolence; (2) greater internalizing difficulties with greater overall sleep disturbance, and disturbance with initiating and maintaining sleep specifically; and (3) younger age at injury with greater overall sleep disturbance, and sleep breathing disturbance specifically.

Conclusion: Children with moderate or severe TBI experience greater overall and/or specific forms of sleep disturbance. Different forms of sleep disturbance may be associated with different factors.

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