Objective: To examine cardiorespiratory fitness in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), before and following participation in a supervised 12-week aerobic exercise training program.
Methods: Ten subjects with nonpenetrating TBI (TBI severity: mild, 50%; moderate, 40%; severe, 10%; time since injury [mean +/- SD]: 6.6 +/- 6.8 years) performed exercise training on a treadmill 3 times a week for 30 minutes at vigorous intensity (70%-80% of heart rate reserve). All subjects completed a cardiopulmonary exercise test, with pulmonary gas exchange measured and a questionnaire related to fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale) at baseline and following exercise training.
Results: After training, increases (P < .01) in peak oxygen consumption (VO2; +3.1 +/- 2.4 mL/min/kg), time to volitional fatigue (+1.4 +/- 0.8 minutes), and peak work rate (+59 +/- 43 W) were observed. At the anaerobic threshold, VO2 (+3.6 +/- 2.1 mL/kg/min), treadmill time (+1.8 +/- 1.1 minutes), and work rate (+37 +/- 39 W) were higher (P < .01) following exercise training. Subjects also reported significantly lower (P < .05) Fatigue Severity Scale composite scores (-0.9 +/- 1.3) following exercise training.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that individuals with TBI may benefit from participation in vigorous aerobic exercise training with improved cardiorespiratory fitness and diminished fatigue.
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