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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2020 Sep 02

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.20.10918-6

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Subtle long-term cognitive effects of a single mild traumatic brain injury and the impact of a three-month aerobic exercise intervention

Camille LARSON-DUPUIS 1, 2, Edith LÉVEILLÉ 1, Martine DESJARDINS 1, Marianne JODOIN 1, 2, Marie-Ève BOURASSA 1, Hélène BERGERON 1, Christelle BEAULIEU 1, Julie CARRIER 1, 2, Véronique PEPIN 1, 3, Louis DE BEAUMONT 1, 4

1 Montreal Sacred Heart Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Canada; 2 Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada; 3 Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Applied Physiology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; 4 Department of Surgery, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada


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BACKGROUND: Although there is a growing body of literature on the impact of multiple concussions on cognitive function with aging, less is known about the long-term impact of sustaining a single mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Additionally, very few interventions exist to treat mTBI patients and prevent a possible accelerated cognitive decline. This study aims to 1- examine the long-term effects of a single mTBI on cognition in patients aged between 55 and 70 years old, 2- evaluate the cognitive effects of an aerobic exercise program for these patients.
METHODS: Thirty-five participants (average age: 58.89, SD: 4.14) were assessed using neuropsychological tests. Among them, 18 had sustained a mTBI two to seven years earlier. Significant differences in information processing speed, executive function and visual memory were found between controls and mTBI patients. Sixteen of the mTBI patients then engaged in a 12-week physical exercise program. They were divided into equivalent groups - 1- aerobic training (cycle ergometers) or 2- stretching exercises. The participants’ cardiopulmonary fitness (VO2max) was evaluated pre- and post- intervention and neuropsychological tests were re-administered post-intervention.
RESULTS: Participants from the aerobic group significantly improved their fitness compared to the stretching group. However, no between-group difference was found on neuropsychological measures post-intervention.
CONCLUSIONS: In summary, this study shows long-term cognitive effects of mTBI in late adulthood patients. Moreover, the controlled, 12-week aerobic exercise program did not lead to cognitive improvements in our small mTBI sample. Lastly, future directions in optimizing mTBI intervention are discussed.


KEY WORDS: Mild traumatic brain injury; Long-term effects; Aerobic exercise; cognition

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