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Clinical Trial
. 2015 Apr;96(4):754-9.
doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.11.009. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Improved Cognitive Performance Following Aerobic Exercise Training in People With Traumatic Brain Injury

Free PMC article
Clinical Trial

Improved Cognitive Performance Following Aerobic Exercise Training in People With Traumatic Brain Injury

Lisa M Chin et al. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. .
Free PMC article


Objective: To examine cognitive function in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) prior to and after participation in an aerobic exercise training program.

Design: Pre-post intervention study.

Setting: Medical research center.

Participants: Volunteer sample of individuals (N=7) (age, 33.3±7.9y) with chronic nonpenetrating TBI (injury severity: 3=mild, 4=moderate; time since most current injury: 4.0±5.5y) who were ambulatory.

Intervention: Twelve weeks of supervised vigorous aerobic exercise training performed 3 times a week for 30 minutes on a treadmill.

Main outcome measures: Cognitive function was assessed using the Trail Making Test Part A (TMT-A), Trail Making Test Part B (TMT-B), and Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS). Sleep quality and depression were measured with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Beck Depression Inventory, version 2 (BDI-II). Indices of cardiorespiratory fitness were used to examine the relation between improvements in cognitive function and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Results: After training, improvements in cognitive function were observed with greater scores on the TMT-A (10.3±6.8; P=.007), TMT-B (9.6±7.0; P=.011), and RBANS total scale (13.3±9.3; P=.009). No changes were observed in measures of the PSQI and BDI-II. The magnitude of cognitive improvements was also strongly related to the gains in cardiorespiratory fitness.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that vigorous aerobic exercise training may improve specific aspects of cognitive function in individuals with TBI and cardiorespiratory fitness gains may be a determinant of these improvements.

Keywords: Brain injuries; Cognition; Exercise; Neuropsychological tests; Questionnaires; Rehabilitation.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The relationship between changes in cognitive function (TMT-A, TMT-B, RBANS) and cardiorespiratory fitness (peak VO2, peak WR, AT-VO2) following aerobic exercise training are shown for all subjects. TMT Part A and B are shown in seconds, where better performance is indicated by less time taken to complete the task. Bold values indicate significant correlations (P <.05).

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