A new study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness entitled “Subtle Long-Term Cognitive Effects of a Single Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and the Impact of a Three-Month Aerobic Exercise Intervention” debunks the myth that a single, uncomplicated mTBI won’t have any permanent residuals. The researchers sought to determine the long-term effects of a single mTBI on cognition in patients aged 55-70 years old. In addition, they wanted to see the impact the aerobic exercise programs would have on these patients’ recovery.
The research included 35 participants who had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury two to seven years earlier. Each participant had a negative scan, no pre-existing risk factors for poor outcome, and were well-educated. The research found significant differences in information processing speed, executive function, and visual memory on neuropsychological tests between controls and mild traumatic brain injury patients.
In terms of aerobic physical exercise, the researchers divided the patients into two equivalent groups: the first receiving aerobic training while the second underwent stretching exercises. The research found the aerobic group had significantly improved their fitness compared to the stretching group. However, there was no between-group difference found on neuropsychological measures post-intervention.