Individuals with TBI walk more slowly, demonstrate greater imbalance, and have reduced endurance. There is strong evidence that a single bout of physical activity has substantial cognitive benefits among older adults and stroke survivors, yet similar studies have not been conducted in TBI. This study will explore whether the types and intensity of the interventions being delivered will yield measurable cognitive benefits in addition to improved mobility and balance.
The study evaluates three therapeutic approaches to improve mobility and balance after TBI: the first approach, Conventional Gait and Balance Training (CGBT), represents the current approach for walking retraining. CGBT focuses on walking training in a variety of conditions, obstacle management training, functional independence training, strength training, and standing dynamic balance training. The second approach, high intensity step training (HIST), focuses on the repetition of stepping at higher cardiovascular intensities and yielding a greater number of steps per training session with promising evidence already published in stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI). The third approach combines virtual reality with HIST, designed to increase cortical excitability while concurrently activating the neuromuscular system.