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Improving cognitive function after brain injury: The use of exercise and virtual reality

Grealy, M A and Johnson, D A and Rushton, S K (1999) Improving cognitive function after brain injury: The use of exercise and virtual reality. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 80 (6). pp. 661-667. ISSN 0003-9993

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Abstract

Objective: To assess the impact of exercise and virtual reality (VR) on the cognitive rehabilitation of persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Design: Before-after trial assessed cognitive function after a 4-week intervention program. A random allocation crossover assessed changes in reaction and movement times after a single bout of VR exercise and a no-exercise control condition. Setting: Brain injury rehabilitation unit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Patients: (1) Four-week intervention: a consecutive sample of 13 suitable TBI adults were compared to control populations (n > 25) of previous TBI patients of similar age, severity, and time postinjury. (2) Single-bout intervention: a consecutive sample of 13 suitable adults with moderate TBI, 6.29 to 202.86 weeks postinjury. Intervention: Nonimmersive VR exercise. Main Outcome Measures: (1) Tests of attention, information processing, learning, and memory. (2) Reaction and movement times. Results: After the 4-week intervention patients performed significantly better than controls on the digit symbol (p <.01), verbal (p <.01), and visual learning tasks (p <.05). Significant improvements in reaction times (p <.01) and movement times (p <.05) were gained following a single bout of VR exercise. Conclusion: Exercising in a virtual environment offers the potential for significant gains in cognitive function. (C) 1999 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.