Objective: Following traumatic brain injury, both sleep dysfunction and cognitive impairment are common. Unfortunately, little is known regarding the potential associations between these 2 symptoms during acute recovery. This study sought to prospectively examine the relationship between ratings of sleep dysfunction and serial cognitive assessments among traumatic brain injury acute neurorehabilitation admissions.
Methods: Participants were consecutive admissions to a free-standing rehabilitation hospital following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (Median Emergency Department Glasgow Coma Scale = 7). Participants were assessed for sleep-wake cycle disturbance (SWCD) and cognitive functioning at admission and with subsequent weekly examinations. Participants were grouped on the basis of presence (SWCD+) or absence (SWCD-) of sleep dysfunction for each examination; groups were equivalent on demographic and injury variables. Individual Growth Curve modeling was used to examine course of Cognitive Test for Delirium performance across examinations.
Results: Individual Growth Curve modeling revealed a significant interaction between examination number (ie, time) and SWCD group (β = -4.03, P < .001) on total Cognitive Test for Delirium score. The SWCD+ ratings on later examinations were predicted to result in lower Cognitive Test for Delirium scores and greater cognitive impairment over time.
Conclusions: This study has implications for improving neurorehabilitation treatment, as targeting sleep dysfunction for early intervention may facilitate cognitive recovery.