Endurance training after traumatic brain injury

Brain Scan

People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are prone to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer, glucose intolerance, and depression-among other disorders. People with a traumatic brain injury often lead a sedentary lifestyle because of motor impairment and cognitive dysfunction, but have an additional detriment of a decreased aerobic capacity-running on as little as 64% of normal.

Research shows that sedentary people who participate in a formal exercise intervention (rather than a simple increase in activity) will decrease their risk of developing disease. Very few studies have been performed with traumatic brain injury survivors. However, a recent research review has shown that those few studies do support an intervention of endurance training.

The following guidelines were recommended for creating a safe and effective cardiorespiratory and endurance training program for people with traumatic brain injury:

  1. The exercise should be low-resistance, rhythmic, and dynamic (varied such as walking, jogging, cycling, etc).
  2. The intensity of training should somewhere between 60-90% of age-predicted maximal heart rate (normally 220 minus age).
  3. The duration should be no more than 20-40 minutes per session (depending on individual).
  4. The frequency should be no more than 3-4 times per week.

Mossberg KA, Amonette WE, & Masel BE. Endurance training and cardiorespiratory conditioning after traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (May 2010).