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Early Aerobic Exercise Associated with Decreased Risk for Persistent Post-Concussion Symptoms (PPCS)

Concussions are defined as a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by biomechanical forces that may result in physical, social, psychological, and biological issues. Studies have found that 1 in 5 adolescents experience at least one concussion in their life.

A recent study looked at the effects of early aerobic exercise versus standard of care among individuals at moderate to high risk for persistent post-concussion symptoms (PPCS). PPCS is defined as the presence of concussion symptoms that started at time of injury and persisted for greater than or equal to 28 days post-injury.

METHODS:  This randomized control trial (RCT) was conducted involving patients ranging from 10 to 18 years of age who had demonstrated post-concussion symptoms. Subjects were randomly dispersed into two groups: 1) exercise group or 2) “standard-of-care” group. The exercise group consisted of 20 minutes of aerobic exercises at individualized intensity 5 days/week at 80% max HR. The standard-of-care group consisted of no exercise recommendations. Instead, the standard-of-care group was to follow their physician’s medical advice regarding physical activity, which typically consisted of a gradual progression as long as it didn’t provoke symptoms.

RESULTS:  Participants returned for re-testing one-month post-concussion for a follow-up assessment.  A smaller percentage of individuals in the early aerobic exercise group developed PPCS when compared to the standard-of-care.

CONCLUSION:  Participants at moderate to high risk of PPCS who participated in early aerobic exercise group within the first week of concussion had half the risk of developing PPCS compared to those who followed the standard-of-care.  Early aerobic exercise suggests lower risk of post-concussion symptoms compared to the standard-of-care.

For further information on the importance of early aerobic activity post-concussion, click here!  Call Omaha Physical Therapy Institute to get started on your concussion rehabilitation today!

Ashlie Eckmann, PT, DPT




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