Concordance between current American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Centers for Medicare and Medicare scoring criteria for obstructive sleep apnea in hospitalized persons with traumatic brain injury: a VA TBI Model System study

J Clin Sleep Med. 2020 Jun 15;16(6):879-888. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8352.


Study objectives: The objective of this study was to compare obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), demographic, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) characteristics across the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Centers for Medicare and Medicare (CMS) scoring rules in moderate to severe TBI undergoing inpatient neurorehabilitation.

Methods: This is a secondary analysis from a prospective clinical trial of sleep apnea at 6 TBI Model System study sites (n = 248). Scoring was completed by a centralized center using both the AASM and CMS criteria for OSA. Hospitalization and injury characteristics were abstracted from the medical record, and demographics were obtained by interview by trained research assistants using TBI Model System standard procedures.

Results: OSA was prevalent using the AASM (66%) and CMS (41.5%) criteria with moderate to strong agreement (weighted κ = 0.64; 95% confidence interval = 0.58-0.70). Significant differences were observed for participants meeting AASM and CMS criteria (concordant group) compared with those meeting criteria for AASM but not CMS (discordant group). At an apnea-hypopnea index ≥ 5 events/h, the discordant group (n = 61) had lower Emergency Department Glasgow Coma Scale Scores consistent with greater injury severity (median, 5 vs 13; P = .0050), younger age (median, 38 vs 58; P < .0001), and lower body mass index (median, 22.1 vs 24.8; P = .0007) compared with the concordant group (n = 103). At an apnea-hypopnea index ≥ 15 events/h, female sex but no other differences were noted, possibly because of the smaller sample size.

Conclusions: The underestimation of sleep apnea using CMS criteria is consistent with prior literature; however, this is the first study to report the impact of the criteria in persons with moderate to severe TBI during a critical stage of neural recovery. Management of comorbidities in TBI has become an increasing focus for optimizing TBI outcomes. Given the chronic morbidity after moderate to severe TBI, the impact of CMS policy for OSA diagnosis for persons with chronic disability and young age are considerable.

Clinical trial registration: Registry:; Name: Comparison of Sleep Apnea Assessment Strategies to Maximize TBI Rehabilitation Participation and Outcome; Identifier: NCT03033901.

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea; policy; traumatic brain injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • United States

Associated data