Exercise and cognitive functioning in people with chronic whiplash-associated disorders : a controlled laboratory study
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
University Hospital Antwerp
Journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy. - Baltimore, Md, 1979, currens
, p. 87-95
University of Antwerp
STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study. BACKGROUND: In addition to persistent pain, people with chronic whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) commonly deal with cognitive dysfunctions. In healthy individuals, aerobic exercise has a positive effect on cognitive performance, and preliminary evidence in other chronic pain conditions reveals promising results as well. However, there is evidence that people with chronic WAD may show a worsening of the symptom complex following physical exertion. OBJECTIVE: To examine postexercise cognitive performance in people with chronic WAD. METHODS: People with chronic WAD (n = 27) and healthy, inactive: sex- and age-matched controls (n = 27) performed a single bout of an incremental submaximal cycling exercise. Before and after the exercise, participants completed 2 performance-based cognitive tests assessing selective and sustained attention, cognitive inhibition, and simple and choice reaction time. RESULTS: At baseline, people with chronic WAD displayed significantly lower scores on sustained attention and simple reaction time (P<.001), but not on selective attention, cognitive inhibition, and choice reaction time (P>.05), compared with healthy controls. Postexercise, both groups showed significantly improved selective attention and choice reaction time (chronic WAD, P =.001; control, P<.001), while simple reaction time significantly increased (P =.037) only in the control group. In both groups, no other significant changes in sustained attention, cognitive inhibition, pain, and fatigue were Observed (P>.05). CONCLUSION: In the short term, postexercise cognitive functioning, pain, and fatigue were not aggravated in people with chronic WAD. However, randomized controlled trials are required to study the longer-term and isolated effects of exercise on cognitive functioning.