The problem of brain injury and its relationship to long term brain function continues to be a point of concern for the military. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has released new recommendations to help identify and treat patients with sleep disturbances following mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. Much of this information is designed to assist our soldiers returning from a variety of conflicts.

As I read thru some of the information, I realized that the statements and recommendations applied not just inside the military, but right here at home. Today, I am enjoying a respite from the usual summer heat and humidity but, before we know it, Fall will be upon us with the usual concerns about our favorite football teams. The recognition of symptoms associated with a concussion are important at all levels; high school, college and professional.

The current recommendations make it very clear that the effects of a concussion may manifest for some time following the injury. The prompt identification and treatment of sleep disorders are an important part of the recovery process in a concussion injury. Common sleep disorders associated with brain injury include: Insomnia (most common), day-night sleep rhythm disorders and obstructive sleep apnea. Physicians are advised that all patients with concussion symptoms should be screened for a sleep disorder. The initial step may be a referral to physicians familiar with sleep disorders for a focused sleep assessment and testing. Treatment does not always require medications, but they may be necessary short term.