Sleep apnea in adults with traumatic brain injury: A preliminary investigation

Joseph B. Webster, Kathleen R. Bell, John D. Hussey, Theresa K. Natale, Sambasiva Lakshminarayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the occurrence and nature of sleep-related breathing disorders in adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Design: Prospective, observational, consecutive sample enrollment of subjects admitted for rehabilitation after TBI. Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation and subacute rehabilitation units of a tertiary care university medical system. Participants: Subjects (n = 28) included adults with TBI and a Rancho Los Amigos Scale level of 3 or greater who were less than 3 months postinjury and admitted for comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation. Interventions: Overnight sleep study using portable 6-channel monitoring system. Main Outcome Measure: Respiratory disturbance index (RDI), which is the number of apneic and hypopneic episodes per hour of sleep. Results: Evidence of sleep apnea was found in 10 of 28 (36%) subjects as measured by a RDI level of 5 or greater and in 3 of 28 (11%) subjects as measured by a RDI level of 10 or greater. This rate of sleep apnea is significantly (p = .002) higher than would be predicted based on population norms. No correlation was found between the occurrence of significant sleep apnea and measures of TBI severity or other demographic variables. Sleep-related breathing disorders were primarily central though obstructive apneas were also noted. Conclusion: In this preliminary investigation, sleep-related breathing disorders as defined by a respiratory disturbance index of 5 or greater appears to be common in adult subjects with TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-321
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Brain injuries
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sleep apnea syndromes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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