The effects of moderate exercise on cognitive, cervical, and vestibulo-ocular functioning in healthy individuals: a pilot study
Master of Science
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While cognitive and physical rest have long been the protocol that most physicians have recommended for concussions, there has been an increase in interest with regards to the prescription of low intensity symptom-limited aerobic exercise in this population. This highlights a gap in the research examining the impact of moderate intensity aerobic exercise as well as cervical strengthening in healthy controls to serve as a baseline for future testing. The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of three separate 6-week supervised and individualized exercise programs when compared to a control group on cognitive and cervical functioning in a sample of 18-35 year old healthy individuals. The four programs were composed of 40 participants who were divided equally amongst the following groups; control group, a moderate intensity aerobic group, cervical strengthening group, and a vestibulo-ocular training group. The participant’s cognitive, cervical, and vestibulo-ocular functioning was assessed pre- and post-treatment. Depending on the assigned groups, participants either continued their daily living (control group) or participated in progressive aerobic cycling sessions (aerobic group), progressive cervical strengthening sessions (cervical group), or progressive vestibulo-ocular retraining sessions (vestibulo-ocular group) three times a week for 6-weeks. Analysis was conducted using a mixed MANOVA and further analyzed with a repeated measures paired t-test and two mixed factorial ANOVAs, with a rejection criteria set at a level of p<.05. When looking at the main effects, the discriminant analysis revealed a statistically significant difference across time for all ImPACT® test battery scores, F(3, 36)=2908.1, p=.00001, Wilks’ Λ=.003, ηp2=.997. There was a statistically significant main effect of time Chin Tuck Head Lift Test (CTHLT) scores, F(3, 36)=6.639, p=.014, Wilks’ Λ=.844, ηp2=.156. The findings in the current study can serve as baseline and foundational research and are clinically relevant as they may suggest that individualized exercise programs do not adversely affect healthy controls, but rather help to maintain or even improve current levels of cognitive and cervical functioning.