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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

mTBI Exercise Class – Returning to exercise with long-lasting mTBI symptoms

Partnering with Active Living Fitness Club, we started an exercise class in September 2015 for our clients who have a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Many people after mTBI, have symptoms of dizziness, vision problems, headaches, fatigue and poor exercise tolerance.

Because of these symptoms, it is difficult for them to add exercise into their lives. Without the ability to tolerate exercise, health and emotional problems can be worsened. With this class, we wanted to try a low intensity, circuit-based fitness class in order to introduce exercise beyond regular physiotherapy appointments.

This class is designed to support, promote and facilitate healthy living in a population of people who may experience difficulties and challenges exercising. It is designed to improve strength, endurance and improve confidence with returning to exercise while also incorporating vestibular and vision therapy. As with any fitness class, exercising with a group can promote social relationships, provide peer support, and improve motivation, adherence and participation.

We started this class to support clients who have had symptoms lasting more than a year in duration. Many have tried to participate in regular exercise however due to the escalation in their symptoms, they have been unable to gain any momentum. This class gives rest breaks, limited time with each activity, slow progression of exercises as well as the social support of other people understanding the symptoms.

Results after 4 months:

We used several outcome measures to assess the benefit of this exercise class with our clients. In a quick summary, most clients feel that they can now participate more exercises and feel better following the exercise sessions. Although dizziness, vision difficulties and headaches still remain an issue during their daily life, many clients feel that the class has helped them tolerate more activity and is helping with some acceptance of their difficulties.

Many in our original group would like to increase the difficulty of their exercises now, and so we are adding in another session per week. We are also changing one of the weekly sessions to add in more cardiovascular fitness and strengthening with the hopes of more functional gains.

The 5 W’s of the class:

When: Mondays and Wednesdays at 4pm, for approx. 45 minutes

Where: Active Living Fitness Club

Who: A physiotherapist (Mon: Julie, Wed: Richard) will be running each class along with 2-3 staff from the gym and clinic for clients of Active Living Physiotherapy who have had a mTBI. Our Monday session will continue with the beginner-level circuit format. Our Wednesday session will progress to an intermediate-level exercise class in February.

How: Please ‘register’ with your therapist or with Ashley, so staff have an idea of who will attend which class.

Cost: $30 per class

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