According to the article by Griesbach et al., 20041, voluntary exercise after traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have beneficial effects on cognitive function and neural plasticity. The authors used a rat model of TBI and found that exercise increased the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a molecule that enhances synaptic plasticity, in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and learning. They also observed that exercise improved the performance of the rats in a spatial learning task. The authors suggested that exercise may be a useful rehabilitative tool for TBI patients, but the optimal timing and intensity of exercise need to be determined.
Other studies have also investigated the effects of exercise on TBI patients. For example, a review by Griesbach2 summarized the evidence for the neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of exercise after TBI, as well as the potential risks of premature or excessive exercise. A study by Rzezak et al., 20153 examined the affective responses of TBI patients after different intensities of exercise and found that exercise reduced negative mood and anxiety symptoms. A study by Gomez-Pinilla et al., 20094 showed that exercise-induced improvement in cognitive performance after TBI was associated with increased levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), another molecule that promotes neural plasticity. A study by Griesbach et al., 20115 demonstrated that exercise modulated the stress response and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function after TBI.
These studies indicate that exercise can have multiple benefits for TBI patients, such as enhancing cognitive function, mood, and neural plasticity. However, more research is needed to establish the optimal parameters and mechanisms of exercise for this population.