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Exercise factors as potential mediators of cognitive rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury

Stephan, Joseph S.a; Sleiman, Sama F.b

doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000754
TRAUMA AND REHABILITATION: Edited by Rajiv R. Ratan and Yutaka Yoshida

Purpose of review To summarize what is known about how exercise mediates cognitive rehabilitation post traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recent findings TBI is a devastating condition that leads to cognitive, motor and social deficits with significant social and economic burdens. Physical exercise has been shown to mediate cognitive rehabilitation post-TBI. The therapeutic effects of exercise are related in part to its ability to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) expression in the hippocampus. However, we have only recently begun to understand how exercise induces Bdnf expression in the brain through the identification of peripheral exercise factors. In this review, we will discuss the literature describing the various known exercise factors and we will assess their potential role in TBI.

Summary The reviewed literature makes a strong case that exercise has important protective roles post-TBI. It also highlights the relevance and role of peripheral exercise factors, such as lactate and beta-hydroxybutyrate in mediating beneficial effects of exercise on cognition. Studying exercise factors in the context of injury will likely contribute to better therapeutic strategies for TBI.

aSchool of Medicine, Lebanese American University

bBiology Program, Department of Natural Sciences, Lebanese American University, Byblos, Lebanon

Correspondence to Sama F. Sleiman, PhD, Lebanese American University School of Arts and Sciences, Byblos, Lebanon. Tel: +961 9 547254; fax: +961 9 944851; e-mail:

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