AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 1, 2020

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Aerobic Exercise May Treat Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms in Adults

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A new study will evaluate whether persistent symptoms following concussion, also known as post-concussion syndrome, can be treated using a personalized, progressive aerobic exercise program. 

Up to 30% of adults who experience a concussion will continue to experience persistent post-concussive symptoms (PPCS) months to years following their injury. In concussed adolescents, sub-symptom threshold aerobic exercise interventions have been shown to speed recovery and decrease the burden of concussive symptoms. Researchers are evaluating a six-week aerobic exercise program compared to a stretching program in adults with persistent symptoms following concussion, and are halfway through this new study, says Leah Mercier, MSc, a graduate student at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and one of the study’s co-authors.

“While aerobic exercise trials in teens with sports-related concussion have shown promise, a similar program in adults has not yet been studied. The individuals in the current study are experiencing chronic symptoms following injury, often affecting their ability to return to work, exercise and perform other daily activities,” says Mercier. “Unfortunately, for this patient population there are few personalized, non-pharmacological interventions with the potential to treat multiple symptoms.”

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