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This review addresses the role of exercise as an intervention for treating neurological disease. It focuses on three major neurological diseases that either present in acute or neurodegenerative forms—Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, and cortical stroke. Each of the diseases affects primarily different brain structures, namely the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the cerebrum. These structures are all known to be involved in motor control, and the dysfunction of each structure leads to distinct movement deficits. The review summarizes current knowledge on how exercise can aid rehabilitation or therapeutic efforts. In addition, it addresses the role of robotic devices in enhancing available therapies by reviewing how robot-aided therapies may promote the recovery for stroke survivors. It highlights recent scientific evidence in support of exercise as a treatment for brain dysfunction, but also outlines the still open challenges for unequivocally demonstrating the benefits of exercise.
Tseng, Khosravani, Mahnan, and Konczak are with the School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.