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The Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Concussion Recovery: A Pilot Clinical Trial

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2021

Aliyah R. Snyder*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Sarah M. Greif
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
James R. Clugston
Affiliation:
Department of Community Health and Family Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
David B. FitzGerald
Affiliation:
Department of Neurology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Research Service and Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL, USA
Joshua F. Yarrow
Affiliation:
Research Service and Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL, USA Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
Talin Babikian
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Christopher C. Giza
Affiliation:
UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Mattel Children’s Hospital, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Floyd J. Thompson
Affiliation:
Research Service and Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL, USA Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Russell M. Bauer
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Research Service and Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL, USA
*
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Aliyah R. Snyder, University of California, Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza, Room 18-240, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA. Email: asnyder@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to pilot safety and tolerability of a 1-week aerobic exercise program during the post-acute phase of concussion (14–25 days post-injury) by examining adherence, symptom response, and key functional outcomes (e.g., cognition, mood, sleep, postural stability, and neurocognitive performance) in young adults.

Method:

A randomized, non-blinded pilot clinical trial was performed to compare the effects of aerobic versus non-aerobic exercise (placebo) in concussion patients. The study enrolled three groups: 1) patients with concussion/mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) randomized to an aerobic exercise intervention performed daily for 1-week, 2) patients with concussion/mTBI randomized to a non-aerobic (stretching and calisthenics) exercise program performed daily for 1-week, and 3) non-injured, no intervention reference group.

Results:

Mixed-model analysis of variance results indicated a significant decrease in symptom severity scores from pre- to post-intervention (mean difference = −7.44, 95% CI [−12.37, −2.20]) for both concussion groups. However, the pre- to post-change was not different between groups. Secondary outcomes all showed improvements by post-intervention, but no differences in trajectory between the groups. By three months post-injury, all outcomes in the concussion groups were within ranges of the non-injured reference group.

Conclusions:

Results from this study indicate that the feasibility and tolerability of administering aerobic exercise via stationary cycling in the post-acute time frame following post-concussion (14–25 days) period are tentatively favorable. Aerobic exercise does not appear to negatively impact recovery trajectories of neurobehavioral outcomes; however, tolerability may be poorer for patients with high symptom burden.

Type
Regular Research
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021

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The Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Concussion Recovery: A Pilot Clinical Trial
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