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Central Sleep Apnea and Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans Disability

Central Sleep Apnea and Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans Disability

Leah Bucholz analyzes an often-overlooked aspect of sleep disorders—central sleep apnea (CSA). While obstructive sleep apnea dominates discussions, there is a subset of veterans who contend with CSA, or sometimes a combination of both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. There are intricacies of central sleep apnea, its evaluation, and the potential connection of central sleep apnea and traumatic brain injury in veterans disability.

Understanding Central Sleep Apnea

Differentiating Central Sleep Apnea from Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Before exploring the relationship between central sleep apnea and traumatic brain injury in veterans disability, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between central and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea typically results from physical blockages or obstructions in the airway, often linked to factors like obesity and excess body tissue. In contrast, central sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is a breathing disorder often arising from issues in the brain, leading to a decrease or cessation of breathing effort during sleep. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, CSA is less common and is not caused by airway blockage.

Diagnosis through Polysomnogram

Central sleep apnea is diagnosed through a polysomnogram, commonly known as a sleep study. This involves monitoring various sleep patterns, including obstructions, hypopneas, and central apneas, to assess the overall sleep condition. The brain’s failure to send appropriate signals for breathing is a characteristic feature of CSA, which can be identified through this comprehensive sleep study.

Can Veterans Get Connected for Central Sleep Apnea?

Direct Service Connection

Veterans diagnosed with sleep apnea during active duty—be it central or obstructive—can often establish a direct service connection. However, complexities arise for reservists and National Guardsmen, especially those without prolonged periods of active duty. Chronic medical conditions, including sleep apnea, are challenging to attribute directly to periods of limited active duty, necessitating careful examination and potentially consultation with legal professionals like attorneys, accredited agents or Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs).

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Central Sleep Apnea

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a prevalent concern among service members, categorized into mild, moderate, and severe cases. Veterans who have suffered head injuries may experience various associated conditions, including seizures, sleep impairments, increased stroke risk, tinnitus, depression, anxiety, headaches, and vertigo. Notably, central sleep apnea can be one of the sleep disorders commonly diagnosed following TBI.

Research Articles Supporting the Connection

Several research articles highlight the connection between traumatic brain injury and central sleep apnea. Leah refers to studies such as “Sleep Apnea and Traumatic Brain Injury: Understanding Its Impact on Executive Function” (2013) and “A Review of Sleep Disturbances Following Traumatic Brain Injury” (2018). Additionally, publications in PubMed emphasize the increased frequency of sleep-related breathing disorders, including both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, after traumatic brain injury.

Consideration of Neck Injuries

Furthermore, neck injuries are implicated in both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Even in the absence of a diagnosed TBI, neck injuries can be relevant, and the mechanisms involved can contribute to central sleep apnea. Understanding the interplay between neck injuries and CSA adds another layer to the assessment of veterans’ health.

Veterans Disability Ratings for Sleep Apnea

Leah briefly touches upon disability ratings for sleep apnea, emphasizing that the current rating system may be subject to change. As of now, veterans with sleep apnea are generally rated at zero percent if the disorder is present but not causing significant issues, 30 percent for daytime sleepiness without the need for breathing assistive devices, and 50 percent if a device like a CPAP is necessary. Ratings can go up to 100 percent for severe cases with chronic respiratory failure or related complications.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the relationship between central sleep apnea and traumatic brain injury in veterans is a nuanced and complex one. Research articles and medical literature provide valuable insights into the connections between head injuries and sleep disorders. Veterans facing these challenges are encouraged to explore these studies, discuss them with their healthcare providers, and seek medical opinions to support their disability claims.

Also read: Coronary Artery Disease and Obesity in Veterans Disability

At Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting, a veteran-owned company, we specialize in Independent Medical Opinions (IMOs) known as Nexus letters.

Our purpose is to empower YOU, the veteran, to take charge of your medical evidence and provide you with valuable educational tools and research to guide you on your journey.

Understanding the unique challenges veterans face, our commitment lies in delivering exceptional service and support.

Leveraging an extensive network of licensed independent medical professionals, all well-versed in the medical professional aspects of the VA claims process, we review the necessary medical evidence to incorporate in our reports related to your VA Disability Claim.

Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting is not a law firm, accredited claims agent, or affiliated with the Veterans Administration or Veterans Services Organizations. However, we are happy to discuss your case with your accredited VA legal professional.

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Danielle McClaskey

Client Relations Specialist U.S. Navy Veteran

In her active-duty service in the United States Navy, Danielle undertook a variety of responsibilities, ranging from essential administrative duties to providing crucial medical care. Her multifaceted contributions played a pivotal role in enhancing her fellow service members’ operational effectiveness and well-being.

As a disabled veteran, she developed a profound understanding of the unique challenges faced by her fellow service members. Now, in her civilian role, Danielle is a valued member of the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team, where she continues to leverage her extensive background and educational achievements to provide exceptional support to veterans.

Leticia

LETICIA

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Leticia has been in the medical field for nearly 14 years. She has always had a passion for medicine and caring for her community. Leticia has spent the last 4 years caring for veterans and first responders with alcohol and substance abuse in a medical rehabilitation setting whilst continuing her education working towards a degree in software development.

Someday she hopes to develop medical software that further enhances the patient’s experience in medical care. Leticia has a deep respect and love for those who have served as she comes from a family of law enforcement and military veterans.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Julie Pereira

JULIE PEREIRA:

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

During her Active-Duty time in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, Julie provided medical administration
and patient care services in the field, the hospital, and base medical office settings.  This military medical and
administrative background has given Julie the hands-on experience and extensive knowledge necessary to
provide unparalleled service to her fellow Veterans through the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team.

Julie’s educational achievements include a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Human Services and a pre-nursing associate in arts and science.

Julie has been inspired by her firsthand knowledge of navigating the VA Benefits process. She has dedicated
most of her adult life to serving Veterans through her knowledge derived from her military and civilian medical
education and training.

Jennifer Januta

JENNIFER JANUTA

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER

During her Active-Duty service in the Army, Jennifer supported various research efforts centered on combat casualty care and Soldier performance. Her military background gave her unique insights into veterans’ distinct challenges, ultimately inspiring her to join the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team.

Jennifer’s educational achievements include a master’s in molecular biology from George Washington University and a master’s in data science from Texas Tech University. Jennifer wholeheartedly dedicates herself to utilizing her knowledge and expertise gained from 15 years of healthcare experience to impact the well-being of those who have served positively.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Leah - Meet the Team

LEAH BUCHOLZ, PA-C

U.S ARMY VETERAN, MEDICAL EXPERT & FORMER C & P EXAMINER

Meet Leah, the founder, and leader of our organization. ​​A combat veteran herself, she understands the unique challenges veterans face, making her mission about much more than running a successful business. It’s about the opportunity to provide a legacy of exceptional service for our heroes.​

​“It is essential to remember that there is no greater honor than caring for service members on the battlefield. Continuing to care for Veterans after separation is an opportunity that I have been afforded to extend that care in this new battlefield related to service-incurred disabilities.”

Her inspiration comes from years of military experience working alongside her fellow servicemembers, particularly key leaders who have influenced her journey, applying their wisdom to her path. She values her team deeply, most of whom are also disabled combat veterans, each member a trusted individual sharing her vision.

 “Driven by passion and purpose, I aim to create a sustainable change that empowers veterans and future generations.”

Leah’s journey hasn’t been without challenges. From overcoming and living with her service-related disabilities to navigating work-life balance, she’s learned to face each hurdle head-on with resilience.  Like many of her veteran brothers and sisters, her early background consisted of limited resources and opportunities. Her military service has helped shape her into a steadfast leader, offering relatable inspiration to others.

Join us in celebrating Leah, a compassionate leader, and resilient veteran, driving our mission to serve those who served our nation.