Pre-Injury Exercise History Predicts Brain Injury Rehabilitation Success

man biking

People who survive a severe traumatic brain injury spend considerable time in the hospital and often return home in a dramatically weakened physical state. For this reason, rehabilitation professionals often prescribe an exercise program in order to strengthen the patient's weakened muscles and cardiovascular system. But, adherence to an exercise program can be difficult, with depression, pain, poor memory, and a lack of motivation potentially contributing to a patient's quitting.

A recent study of severe traumatic brain injury patients found that certain factors helped to predict whether or not a patient would adhere to an exercise program. Younger age and lesser injury severity contributed to better adherence, but the strongest predictor of adherence was the patient's exercise history. If the patient had exercised (running or walking) prior to injury, they were more likely to stick with a post-injury exercise program.

Asking a patient about their exercise history can help increase adherence to their rehabilitation program. For instance, exercises could be tailored for patients who did not exercise previously because they disliked running or walking, or because they did not feel confident in their abilities.

Hassett LM, Tate RL, Moseley AM, & Gillett LE. Injury severity, age and pre-injury exercise history predict adherence to a home-based exercise programmed in adults with traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (July 2011)