Sensory Sensitivity in TBI: Implications for Chronic Disability

  • Megan L. Callahan
  • Miranda M. LimEmail author
Neurotrauma (D Sandsmark, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neurotrauma


Purpose of Review

This review investigates the relationship between sensory sensitivity and traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the role sensory sensitivity plays in chronic disability.

Recent Findings

TBI is a significant cause of disability with a range of physical, cognitive, and mental health consequences. Sensory sensitivities (e.g., noise and light) are among the most frequently reported, yet least outwardly recognizable symptoms following TBI. Clinicians and scientists alike have yet to identify consistent nomenclature for defining noise and light sensitivity, making it difficult to accurately and reliably assess their influence. Noise and light sensitivity can profoundly affect critical aspects of independent function including communication, productivity, socialization, cognition, sleep, and mental health.


Research examining the prevalence of sensory sensitivity and evidence for the association of sensory sensitivity with TBI is inconclusive. Evidence-based interventions for sensory sensitivity, particularly following TBI, are lacking.


Sensory sensitivity Light sensitivity Noise sensitivity Traumatic brain injury Neurodegeneration PTSD 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Megan L. Callahan and Miranda M. Lim each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VA Portland Health Care SystemPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Department of Behavioral Neuroscience; Oregon Institute of Occupational Health SciencesOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA

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