AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Could Fixing the Body Clock Help People Regain Consciousness?

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For people with severe brain injuries, researchers have found that the rhythm of daily fluctuations in body temperature is related to their level of consciousness. “Our study suggests that the closer the body temperature patterns of a severely brain injured person are to those of a healthy person’s circadian rhythm, the better they scored on tests of recovery from coma, especially when looking at arousal, which is necessary for consciousness,” said study author Christine Blume, PhD, of the University of Salzburg in Austria. Circadian rhythms, which are rhythmic variations in body functions brought about by the body’s internal clock, are the daily cycles that tell us when to sleep, wake or eat. This biological clock also regulates many of the body’s other functions including temperature. It is set by environmental cues, like periods of daylight and dark.

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