Treatment of Post-TBI Fatigue with Light Therapy

Fatigue is a common problem after TBI that affects up to 80% of individuals with TBI (far more than the general population) and is relatively stable and persistent after the first year post-injury. Post-TBI Fatigue (PTBIF) is strongly associated with depression, pain, poor sleep quality, neurobehavioral dysfunction and poor quality of life.

To date, little evidence has been generated in support of such potential treatments of PTBIF as medications, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness training. Given the absence of proven treatments, we chose in this randomized trial to explore regular exposure to bright white light (BWL) as a new potential treatment for PTBIF. BWL treatment involves daily exposure to light (typically 30 minutes) using a small light box. Systematic reviews have shown that BWL is effective in reducing depression and in treating circadian rhythm disturbances and other sleep-related disorders. BWL has also been shown effective in treating sleep disorders in individuals with dementia and in reducing daytime sleepiness and improving cognitive performance in healthy adults without disabilities.

We are currently conducting an 8-week, randomized parallel-group trial with blinded outcome assessment, involving 4 weeks of treatment with BWL or dim red light (DRL) and a follow-up assessment 4 weeks after completion of treatment. The primary outcome to be studied is a measure of fatigue. The study will recruit 40 people into each arm of the study.

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