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Deep sleep may improve outcome after brain injury

Many Oklahoma residents are aware of the negative effects of traumatic brain injuries. In March, the National Football League acknowledged that there is a connection between frequent head injuries, like those experienced by many professional football players, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Though there are still many unanswered questions about TBIs, some scientists think that they have an idea how to treat them.

Scientific researchers in Switzerland conducted a study on rats affected by traumatic brain injuries. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroscience. According to the researchers, inducing deep sleep in rats immediately after the rats had sustained a TBI allowed the rats' brains to preserve functionality. Before the study, doctors were in disagreement about whether to recommend rest or activity in the weeks following a traumatic brain injury.

To conduct the study, the Zurich scientists used 25 rats. All of the rats were struck in the prefrontal cortex and then allowed various levels of sleep. One group of rats was treated with sodium oxybate to induce slow-wave brain activity, one group was kept awake by gentle handling and then allowed to go into a deep 'rebound sleep" and one group was given a placebo injection. Afterwards, researchers determined that the rats that had experienced more slow-wave brain activity had less brain damage and performed better on cognitive tests.

A person who has been injured in an accident may experience many negative effects from a traumatic brain injury. Some accident victims suffer from cognitive impairment, mood swings and short or long-term memory loss. If an accident was caused by another party's negligence, an injured victim may want a lawyer's help in seeking compensation.

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