Sleep aids in the healing of mild traumatic brain injuries.

18 Mar Sleep aids in the healing of mild traumatic brain injuries.

We all know that sleep aids in restoring the body from the day’s activities but did you know that sleep can actually aid in the healing of mild traumatic brain injuries? A recent study performed by Piantino et al. (2021) looked at this very phenomenon.

Their aim was to determine the effect of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) on the burden of MRI visible perivascular spaces (PVS) in US military veterans and whether sleep can modulate this effect. Researchers used MRI scanning to evaluate the enlargement of the PVS that surround blood vessels in the brain. These spaces are a part of the brain’s waste clearance system known as the glymphatic system and during sleep, this brain wide network clears away any metabolic proteins that build up in the brain. With this scan, researchers were able to precisely measure the structures and count the number, location, and diameter of channels.

Among the 56 enlisted veterans in the study, multiple correlations were found between:

  • the number of mTBIs sustained and both PVS number and volume
  • mTBI and poor sleep on PVS volume
  • PVS number and volume and the severity of post concussive symptoms.


The significance of the study conducted shows that there is a very real possibility to predict whether someone will be at a higher risk to developing cognitive problems by scanning and inspecting these PVS. Furthermore, it just adds more emphasis on the importance of obtaining good, quality sleep as doing so is actively fighting off these impairments from occurring.

Reference: Juan Piantino, Daniel L Schwartz, Madison Luther, Craig D Newgard, Lisa Silbert, Murray Raskind, Kathleen Pagulayan, Natalia Kleinhans, Jeffrey Iliff, Elaine Peskind. Link between mild traumatic brain injury, poor sleep, and MRI-visible perivascular spaces in Veterans. Journal of Neurotrauma, 2021; DOI: 10.1089/neu.2020.7447