The Effects of Including Aerobic Exercise in the Treatment Protocol of Concussions: A Systemic Review and Meta-analysis

Sofie De Wandel, Tracey Sulak, Darryn S. Willoughby


Background of Study: More research studies are being completed advocating for the use of exercise as an intervention and form of treatment for concussions. However, exercise can include many forms of physical activity, intensities, and durations. This systemic review and meta-analysis focused on the use of aerobic exercise, such as cycling or walking, as an intervention and form of treatment for children and young adults suffering from a concussion. Objective: The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine if the addition of aerobic exercise to an individual concussion treatment makes a significant difference when compared to treatments using flexibility as a form of physical activity or traditional methods of treatment following guidelines from the 2016 Berlin Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. Method: The search conducted for articles generated 472 studies. Out of these, 5 studies were selected based from the inclusion criteria. Results: Aerobic exercise was shown to significantly decrease the absolute risk difference for the development of prolonged post-concussion symptoms in children and adolescents with concussions when compared to those who reported no physical activity. The mean risk difference for the independent variable (IV) was -0.12 with a 95% confidence interval was reported to be -0.17 to -0.07 and an effect size of Z = 4.94 (P < 0.00001). Aerobic exercise was also shown to have an effect on the change in post-concussion symptom scale scores. The mean IV difference was 8.7 with a 95% confidence interval of 2.05 to 14.35 and an effect size of Z=3.02 (p=0.003). Conclusion: In conclusion, while there is evidence that aerobic exercise is beneficial for children and adolescents with a concussion, more studies need to be completed focusing on this age group and the effects of aerobic exercise on concussion recovery.


Concussion, Exercise, Adolescents, Children, Return to Sport, Exercise Therapy

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