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Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation:
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000062
Original Articles

Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Aerobic Exercise Training in Individuals With Traumatic Brain Injury

Chin, Lisa M. K. PhD; Chan, Leighton MD, MPH; Woolstenhulme, Joshua G. DPT; Christensen, Eric J. MS; Shenouda, Christian N. MD; Keyser, Randall E. PhD

Section Editor(s): Caplan, Bruce PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD, ABPP; Brenner, Lisa PhD, ABPP

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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 (

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; +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,

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(+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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