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Independent, Community-Based Aerobic Exercise Training for People With Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

      Abstract

      Objective

      To determine whether people with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can adhere to a minimally supervised, community-based, vigorous aerobic exercise program.

      Design

      Prospective trial.

      Setting

      Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) facilities.

      Participants

      Community-dwelling volunteers (N=10; 8 men, 2 women; age range, 22–49y) 6 to 15 months after moderate-to-severe TBI.

      Intervention

      Participants received memberships to local YMCAs and brief orientations to exercise. They were then asked to independently complete ≥12 weeks of ≥3 training sessions per week, performed at 65% to 85% of maximum heart rate for ≥30 minutes per session. Participants could self-select exercise modality, provided they met intensity and duration targets. Programmable heart rate monitors captured session intensity and duration.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Independence with equipment and facility use and compliance with training goals (session frequency, duration, intensity, total weeks of training).

      Results

      All participants achieved independence with equipment and facility use. All met at least 2 of 4 training goals; half met all 4 goals. Participants averaged (±SD) 3.3±0.7 sessions per week for 13 weeks (range, 6–24). Average ± SD session duration was 62±23 minutes, of which 51±22 minutes occurred at or above individuals' heart rate training targets.

      Conclusions

      People in recovery from moderate-to-severe TBI can, with minimal guidance, perform vigorous, community-based exercise. This suggests that decentralized exercise may be logistically and economically sustainable after TBI, expanding its potential therapeutic utility and rendering longer-duration exercise studies more feasible.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      HRM (heart rate monitor), TBI (traumatic brain injury), YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association)
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