Polysomnographic Sleep Patterns in Children and Adolescents in Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome

Paolo Avantaggiato, Erika Molteni, Francesca Formica, Gian Luigi Gigli, Mariarosaria Valente, Simone Lorenzut, Stefano De Biase, Salvatore Arcieri, Federica Locatelli, Sandra Strazzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We aimed (i) to search for qualitative sleep patterns for pediatric unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (SPPUWS) in prolonged polysomnographic (PSG) recordings in children and adolescents with subacute severe disorders of consciousness due to an acquired brain damage; (ii) to investigate the clinical relevance of SPPUWS and of possible neurophysiological markers (rapid eye movement sleep and sleep spindles) in PSG recordings of pediatric patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS). Methods: We performed a PSG study in 27 children with UWS due to acquired brain damage in the subacute phase. Patients received a full neurological examination and a clinical assessment with standardized scales. In addition, outcome was assessed after 36 months. Results: We identified 6 PSG patterns (SPPUWS) corresponding to increasing neuroelectrical complexity. The presence of an organized sleep pattern, as well as rapid eye movement sleep and sleep spindles, in the subacute stage appeared highly predictive of a more favorable outcome. Correlation was found between SPPUWS and recovery, as assessed by several clinical and rehabilitation scales. Conclusions: Polysomnography can be used as a prognostic tool, as it can help determine the capability to recover from a pediatric UWS and predict outcome well before the confirmation provided by suitable clinical scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-346
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 25 2015


  • brain injury prognosis
  • electroencephalography
  • encephalopathy
  • pediatric brain injury
  • pediatric brain tumor
  • persistent vegetative state
  • polysomnography
  • unresponsive wakefulness syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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