The National Institute of Health recently completed a study on the role of exercise in memory and cognitive skills for those with a traumatic brain injury. Specifically, the goal of this study was to look at the benefits of exercise in 18-45 year old individuals with a TBI, at least 2 months after their injury and otherwise healthy. Completed this summer at the main NIH Clinical Research site, this study was an exploration of previous findings that exercise after exposure to images enhances the participant’s subsequent recall and extended the study to include recall of words and logical cognition. Notably, this study also looked at new ways to measure progress after a brain injury by examining the mechanism of the effect of using exercise biomarkers and the relatively new technology of fMRI. In a parallel fMRI experiment, intended to explore the brain basis of the effect of exercise on memory, healthy volunteers viewed pictures, exercised at a high or low intensity, and then performed a recall task while in the scanner.
As of yet, the NIH has not published the study’s results. However, this new study may well have similar findings to past ones. Additionally, the use of newer biological tools will make an even stronger case that exercise, even walking fast, is well worth the time for adults living with a TBI to enhance their cognitive skills.