Research Reports - A systematic review of the effect of physical exercise on cognition in stroke and traumatic brain injury patients

NeuroRehabilitation. 2016 Oct 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Vanderbeken I(1), Kerckhofs E(2,)(3).

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether physical exercise enhances cognition following
TBI or stroke.
DATA SOURCES: Studies were identified through searches of PubMed, ScienceDirect
and the reference lists of papers that were included for full-text evaluation.
Medical subject headings from three concepts, i.e. brain injury, physical
exercise and cognition, were used to incorporate related search terms.
STUDY SELECTION: Included were all trials published in English that assessed
cognition before and after an exercise intervention in human adults with TBI or
stroke. Nine randomized and two non-randomized controlled trials, as well as
three single group pre-post studies were included.
DATA EXTRACTION: Relevant data concerning the methods and results of the included
studies were extracted. Methodological quality of the RCT's was evaluated using
the PEDro scale. Non-randomized trials were assessed using the Downs and Black
DATA SYNTHESIS: The included trials were generally of medium methodological
quality, though often plagued with issues of internal and external validity. The
studies exhibited great heterogeneity, rendering a meta-analysis infeasible.
CONCLUSIONS: Though well-designed studies are still needed, the preponderance of
evidence suggests a positive effect of physical exercise on global cognitive
functioning, especially in the chronic stages of a brain injury. Time after
injury as well as the duration and intensity of the exercise program are
mediating factors. 

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