The purpose of this study was to compare the peak aerobic capacities and ventilatory anaerobic thresholds (VAT) of individuals with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to age- and gender-matched controls.
Nineteen participants that previously suffered a mild to moderate TBI and 19 apparently healthy controls volunteered as subjects. Traumatic brain injury and healthy controls were matched for age and gender and were similar in weight and body mass index. Volunteers performed a maximal graded treadmill test to volitional failure where oxygen consumption (O2), carbon dioxide production (CO2, ventilation (E, and heart rate were measured continuously. From metabolic and ventilatory data, VAT was measured using a previously described method. Vat and peak exercise responses of participants with a TBI were compared with healthy controls.
The O2, and CO2 at VAT and peak exercise were lower for TBI compared with healthy controls. E was also lower for TBI at VAT and peak exercise. Heart rate was lower for TBI at VAT; however, TBI had similar heart rate to healthy controls at peak exercise.
The VAT and peak exercise capacities of participants with a TBI were below the metabolic demands of many routine daily activities. The data suggest that therapeutic interventions for individuals with a TBI should include targeted exercise prescriptions to improve cardiorespiratory fitness.