14 Oct REM Behaviour Disorder more common in veterans with PTSD, potentially indicating Parkinson’s disease.
REM Behaviour Disorder, or RBD, is a disorder that occurs during the REM stage of sleep where the body should be paralysed to prevent us from acting out a dreams but is not resulting in movement, sometimes causing harm to one’s self or others around them. In such cases, the brain control over the muscle paralysis is impaired and is estimated to effect less than 1% of the general population.
A recent study, conducted by a team of researchers at the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health & Science University, enlisted veteran participants who underwent an overnight sleep study between 2015 and 2017 to determine the presence of RBD. The participants’ muscle activity was continuously monitored and researchers found that those veterans with PTSD has a much higher prevalence rate than those veterans without it.
Researchers hypothesize that extreme stress on the brain or a head injury may have accelerated the neurodegenerative process causing the disorder to occur. When comparing the results of this study to the general population, 9% of veterans enlisted has RBD whereas that number jumped up to 21% if the veteran also has PTSD.
The study is important as prior studies have linked RBD to Parkinson’s disease and RBD often precedes symptoms of Parkinson’s by years. This new connection, specifically in veterans with PTSD, would encourage beginning preventative treatment for Parkinson’s disease in the chance that they would eventually develop the disorder later in life due to being more prevalent to have RBD. More research needs to be done in the field of preventing Parkinson’s by selectively working with those who have been found to have a REM Behaviour Disorder. If we’re able to intervene before Parkinson’s sets, it may alleviate some of the symptoms.