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J Sport Rehabil. 2018 Jul 27:1-6. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2017-0159. [Epub ahead of print]

Subsymptomatic Aerobic Exercise for Patients With Postconcussion Syndrome: A Critically Appraised Topic.

Abstract

Clinical Scenario: Patients who experience prolonged concussion symptoms can be diagnosed with postconcussion syndrome (PCS) when those symptoms persist longer than 4 weeks. Aerobic exercise protocols have been shown to be effective in improving physical and mental aspects of health. Emerging research suggests that aerobic exercise may be useful as a treatment for PCS, where exercise allows patients to feel less isolated and more active during the recovery process.

CLINICAL QUESTION:

Is aerobic exercise more beneficial in reducing symptoms than current standard care in patients with prolonged symptoms or PCS lasting longer than 4 weeks? Summary of Key Findings: After a thorough literature search, 4 studies relevant to the clinical question were selected. Of the 4 studies, 1 study was a randomized control trial and 3 studies were case series. All 4 studies investigated aerobic exercise protocol as treatment for PCS. Three studies demonstrated a greater rate of symptom improvement from baseline assessment to follow-up after a controlled subsymptomatic aerobic exercise program. One study showed a decrease in symptoms in the aerobic exercise group compared with the full-body stretching group. Clinical Bottom Line: There is moderate evidence to support subsymptomatic aerobic exercise as a treatment of PCS; therefore, it should be considered as a clinical option for reducing PCS and prolonged concussion symptoms. A previously validated protocol, such as the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill test, Balke protocol, or rating of perceived exertion, as mentioned in this critically appraised topic, should be used to measure baseline values and treatment progression. Strength of Recommendation: Level C evidence exists that the aerobic exercise protocol is more effective than the current standard of care in treating PCS.

KEYWORDS:

brain concussion; exercise training; persistent symptoms; rehabilitation; return to play

PMID:
28952858
DOI:
10.1123/jsr.2017-0159

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