A new report published in the journal Neurology has provided preliminary evidence for a connection between circadian body temperature rhythms and arousal in patients in minimally conscious or vegetative states. Led by Christine Blume, PhD, of University of Salzburg in Austria, the study used a small cross-section of patients to investigate how circadian body temperature rhythms could possibly be used to encourage recovery from severe traumatic brain injury.   

What Is the Circadian Rhythm?

The body’s circadian rhythms can best be described as the mental and behavioral changes that occur in 24-hour cycles. Largely determined by light and dark, circadian rhythms influence sleep-wake cycles, the release of hormones, and other critical body functions. In fact, the circadian rhythms play such a vital role in the body that abnormal rhythms have been linked to depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.  

Using the Circadian Rhythm to Improve Brain Health

According to Blume and her team, “First, the presence or absence of circadian rhythms as well as anomalies in them could be informative about the state of the patient as well as the potential for recovery. Second, this could provide information about time points that best capture remaining cognitive functions.”

Though circadian disruption is just one of many problems occurring in the brains of people with TBI, it is a very significant problem since “preserved circadian temperature rhythms may stabilize the integrity of patients’ sleep-wake patterns, which in turn would support sustained arousal and eventually attention and (residual) awareness,” the researchers wrote. All of this confirms that more research is needed to uncover how doctors can best enhance the circadian rhythm of unconscious TBI patients in order to encourage the return of their cognitive functions.

NeuroInternational, a TBI rehabilitation and supported living program serving Florida, Michigan, and many other areas, pays close attention to this type of research. NeuroInternational specializes in providing residential neurorehabilitation support services and resources to persons with traumatic brain injury through a number of unique programs. If you or a loved one is experiencing TBI-related difficulties, give NeuroInternational a call at (941)-870-4129 to learn more about their services.