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The role of physical exercise and rehabilitative implications in the process of nerve repair in peripheral neuropathies: a systematic review
Chiaramonte R, Pavone V, Testa G, Pesce I, Scaturro D, Musumeci G, Mauro GL, Vecchio M
Diagnostics 2023 Jan;13(3):364
systematic review

BACKGROUND: The various mechanisms involved in peripheral nerve regeneration, induced by exercise and electrical nerve stimulation, are still unclear. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this review was to summarize the influence of physical exercise and/or electrical stimulation on peripheral nerve repair and regeneration and the variation of impact of intervention depending on timing, as well as kind and dosage of the intervention. A literature survey was conducted on PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, between February 2021 to July 2021, with an update in September 2022. METHODOLOGY: The literature search identified 101,386 articles with the keywords: "peripheral nerve" OR "neuropathy" AND "sprouting" OR "neuroapraxia" OR "axonotmesis" OR "neurotmesis" OR "muscle denervation" OR "denervated muscle" AND "rehabilitation" OR "physical activity" OR "physical exercise" OR "activity" OR "electrical stimulation". A total of 60 publications were included. Eligible studies were focused on evaluating the process of nerve repair (biopsy, electromyographic parameters or biomarker outcomes) after electrical stimulation or physical exercise interventions on humans or animals with peripheral sensory or motor nerve injury. SYNTHESIS: This study shows that the literature, especially regarding preclinical research, is mainly in agreement that an early physical program with active exercise and/or electrical stimulation promotes axonal regenerative responses and prevents maladaptive response. This was evaluated by means of changes in electrophysiological recordings of CMAPs for latency amplitude, and the sciatic functional index (SFI). Furthermore, this type of activity can cause an increase in weight and in muscle fiber diameter. Nevertheless, some detrimental effects of exercising and electrical stimulation too early after nerve repair were recorded. CONCLUSIONS: In most preclinical studies, peripheral neuropathy function was associated with improvements after physical exercise and electrical stimulation. For humans, too little research has been conducted on this topic to reach a complete conclusion. This research supports the need for future studies to test the validity of a possible rehabilitation treatment in humans in cases of peripheral neuropathy to help nerve sprouting.

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