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Tatyana Mollayeva*, Tetyana Kendzerska, Shirin Mollayeva and Angela Colantonio
Background: Persons who have sustained a traumatic brain injury are at a significantly increased risk for sleep disorders. One of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders after traumatic brain injury is sleep apnea, defined as a cessation of breathing accompanied by frequent arousals and hypoxia during sleep. The effects of untreated sleep apnea on a person’s cognitive decline and the development of behavioral deficits have only recently been identified. It has been shown that axonal damage can occur because of sleep apnea and numerous neuropsychological studies of sleep apnea patients show deficits in cognitive domains, such as executive function and attention. However, there has been little published discussion regarding the interaction between sleep apnea and executive function among persons with traumatic brain injury.
Objectives: The objectives of this review were to 1) review/synthesize published work relevant to the discussion of sleep apnea influencing executive function; and 2) clarify the nature of the interface between executive function and sleep apnea in persons with traumatic brain injury.
Results: Until now, little attention has been directed to the neurobehavioral consequences of sleep apnea in persons with traumatic brain injury. There is an urgent need for more longitudinal research examining the effects of sleep apnea on executive function after traumatic brain injury and the effectiveness of sleep apnea treatment on executive function after injury.