Aerobic exercise may be effective TBI intervention

West Virginia residents who suffer a traumatic brain injury have few treatment options available. Attention training and cognitive behavioral therapy are just two interventions that can help victims cope with the cognitive and psychosocial symptoms, but in severe cases, even these may have little effect. Pharmacological treatments have also been found lacking. Yet studies suggest that exercise can benefit TBI victims where other treatments fail.

A team from the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University reviewed the data from clinical trials involving TBI victims of varying ages and injury severity. In all, the team investigated six studies with an average of 42 participants in each. Three of those studies had patients undergo neuroimaging and aerobic exercise interventions while the others focused on cognitive outcomes.

Investigators found that aerobic exercises, which temporarily create a greater oxygen demand on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, can help relieve TBI-related, and especially concussion-related, symptoms. They also state that future clinical trials should combine neuroimaging and cognitive outcomes to show whether the neural improvements wrought by exercise translate into cognitive changes.

Investigators are hopeful that there will be further progress in what is, in many respects, still a new field. Future studies must, however, consider not only the conventional variables like age and sex but also different levels of stress and depression experienced by patients.

Traumatic brain injuries can vary in severity, but even a concussion can result in cognitive impairment lasting somewhere around three months. Whether victims suffer this impairment or more lasting brain damage, they may be eligible for compensation. It all depends on the circumstances of the injury. Whether they were injured on the job or in an auto accident, they might want a lawyer to evaluate their case and determine how much they might be eligible for in damages.

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