Dysautonomia and heart rate variability following severe traumatic brain injury

Ian J. Baguley*, Roxana E. Heriseanu, Kim L. Felmingham, Ian D. Cameron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Primary objective: To investigate disconnection theories postulated as the cause of dysautonomia following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) through analysis of heart rate variability (HRV). Methods and procedures: Data were collected on age-matched subjects with and without dysautonomia (eight subjects in each group) and 16 non-injured controls. Data included injury details, continuous electrocardiograph recordings and rehabilitation outcome. Main outcomes and results: The TBI group revealed significant differences in HRV parameters both compared to controls and between dysautonomic and non-dysautonomic subjects. Additionally, HRV parameters for dysautonomic subjects showed evidence of an uncoupling of the normal relationship between heart rate and sympathetic/parasympathetic balance. HRV changes persisted for the dysautonomia group for a mean of 14 months post-injury. Conclusions: Dysautonomic subjects revealed prolonged uncoupling of heart rate and HRV parameters compared to non-dysautonomic subjects and controls. These findings represent direct pathophysiological evidence supporting the disconnection theory postulated to produce dysautonomia following TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysautonomia
  • Heart rate variability
  • Traumatic brain injury


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