Background: Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and are associated with negative outcomes. Incidence varies because of challenges including differences in assessment methods, particularly in the acute stages of recovery when patients are cognitively impaired and unable to complete traditional self-report methods. Actigraphy (ACG) recently has been validated in the acute TBI rehabilitation setting and may serve as a superior method of assessing sleep-wake patterns at this stage of recovery. Although a few studies with small sample sizes have described the use of ACG, none have described feasibility and implementation protocols.
Objective: To describe the feasibility and implementation protocol of ACG to evaluate sleep-wake patterns and white-light exposure data in patients with acute TBI during inpatient rehabilitation. Sleep-wake patterns and light exposure data are presented to characterize the sample using these methods to inform future research.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Acute inpatient rehabilitation unit at a Veterans' Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center.
Participants: Veterans (age ≥18 years) admitted to inpatient rehabilitation and enrolled in the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems study who were admitted and discharged in the calendar year 2013.
Methods: Veterans underwent actigraph watch placement as soon as possible after admission. Records from the calendar year 2013 were reviewed to determine the number of admissions that met study criteria and what percentage of those patients had 3 days of continuous ACG data collected. The barriers to successful watch placement in this population were reviewed. Average sleep, light, and wake data from available records were collected for the study sample.
Main outcome measurements: Percentage of patients who met study criteria and who had 72 hours of continuous ACG data collected. The barriers to successful watch placement in this population were reviewed. Average sleep, light, and wake data from available records were collected.
Results: Of 22 eligible Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems admissions, 3 consecutive nights of ACG data were successfully obtained for 86% (n = 19) of the sample. Barriers to data collection included patient access due to abbreviated lengths of stay, staff availability for ACG placement, and data collection protocols to prevent loss of data in Veterans' Affairs computing systems.
Conclusions: ACG is feasible for collecting data about sleep, wake, and light exposure in patients who are in acute TBI inpatient rehabilitation settings.
Level of evidence: III.
Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.