Sleep Disorders Unit – Medical University Innsbruck

Sleep Disorders Unit - Medical University Innsbruck

University Hospital of Neurology

Sleep Disorders Unit

Contact: Birgit  
Position: Head of Laboratory
Address: Anichstraße 35, 6020
City: Innsbruck
Country: Austria
Contact Email: Contact laboratory
RESEARCH DOMAIN: Clinical, Basic Human
KEYWORDS: Others, Sleep and Medical Disorders, Genetics of Sleep, Neurological Sleep Disorders


Laboratory Description:

The sleep disorders clinic at the Department of Neurology of Innsbruck Medical University serves as a tertiary sleep disorders referral center serving for a population of about 2 million from western Austria and South Tyrol (Northern Italy). It is the only academic facility for diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders in the abovementioned area. It offers specialized diagnosis and treatment for the full range of disorders of sleep and wakefulness and serves as specialized referral center for difficult clinical cases for selected patients from all over Austria.

Birgit Högl MD is a senior neurologist and board certified sleep specialist and head of the sleep disorders unit and sleep research group since 1999. She is President of the European Restless Legs Study Group (EURLSSG), treasurer of the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), secretary of the International Restless Legs Study Group (IRLSSG), past president o the Austrian sleep research association (ÖGSM/ASRA), Chair of the Publication Committee of the WASM, Chair of The Movement Disorders in Sleep Section of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

The medical staff of the Innsbruck sleep research group further consists of senior neurologist Priv Doz. Birgit Frauscher MD, senior neurologist and board certified sleep specialist Elisabeth Brandauer MD, two residents Viola Gschliesser MD and Laura Ehrmann MD and two PhD students, Thomas Mitterling MD and David Gabelia MD. The center’s main research topics are daytime sleepiness and motor phenomena during sleep in health and disease. In the field of idiopathic hypersomnia and narcolepsy, research is aimed on epidemiology, genetics, pathophysiology and treatment. Regarding sleep related movement disorders, notably Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) the Innsbruck sleep research group conducted numerous studies on epidemiology, genetics, treatment and establishment of rating scales. Another research field is neuropsychology and sleep disorders. Together with cooperation partners new polysomnographic montages have been developed, and established for diagnosis of REM-Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) and studies on normative values of REM sleep without atonia were performed. Multiple long-standing international collaborations in this field exist highlightening ongoing genetic collaborations and a European bicentric collaboration with the Department of Neurology, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona (SINBAR collaboration: A. Iranzo, J. Santamaria, E. Tolosa).

The sleep group of Innsbruck has been organizer of national and international congresses (ASRA 2003 and 2010, ESRS 2006, WASM teaching course 2011) and is involved in training of junior researchers and residents. Furthermore it was home for guest visiting professors and guest fellows from Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Italy, Georgia, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, and Thailand.

KEY Publications of the Laboratory:

Frauscher B, Hering S, Högl B, Gschliesser V, Ulmer H, Poewe W, Boesch SM. Restless legs syndrome in Friedreich ataxia: A polysomnographic study. Mov Disord. 2011;26:302-6.

Iranzo A, Frauscher B, Santos H, Gschliesser V, Ratti L, Falkenstetter T, Stürner C, Salamero M, Tolosa E, Poewe W, Santamaria J, Högl B; for the SINBAR (Sleep Innsbruck Barcelona) Group. Usefulness of the SINBAR electromyographic montage to detect the motor and vocal manifestations occurring in REM sleep behavior disorder. Sleep Med. 2011 ;12:284-288

Frauscher B, Kunz A, Brandauer E, Ulmer H, Poewe W, Högl B. Fragmentary myoclonus in sleep revisited: A polysomnographic study in 62 patients. Sleep Med. 2011 ;12:410-415

Frauscher B, Gschliesser V, Brandauer E, Schönwald SV, Falkenstetter T, Ehrmann L, Tokmak I, Poewe W, Högl B. Motor disturbances during non-REM and REM sleep in narcolepsy-cataplexy: a video-polysomnographic analysis. J Sleep Res. 2011 Jan 25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00906.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Frauscher B, Brandauer E, Gschliesser V, Falkenstetter T, Furtner MT, Ulmer H, Poewe W, Högl B. A descriptive analysis of neck myoclonus during routine polysomnography. Sleep 2010; 33:1091-6.

Frauscher B, Gschliesser V, Brandauer E, Marti I, Furtner MT, Ulmer H, Poewe W, Högl B. REM sleep behavior disorder in 703 sleep-disorder patients: the importance of eliciting a comprehensive sleep history. Sleep Med 2010;11:167-71.