Training with Functional Electrical Stimulation in People with Spinal Cord Injury

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This research study was carried out in Nijmegen by one of the PhD students of Professor Anthony J Sargeant in collaboration with Professor Maria Hopman. It showed how cycle training using functional electrical stimulation could improve circulation in the paralyzed legs of people with spinal cord injury.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Jun;82(6):832-9

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To test whether a short period of training leads to adaptations in the cross-sectional area of large conduit arteries and improved blood flow to the paralyzed legs of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).

DESIGN: Before-after trial.

SETTING: Rehabilitation center, academic medical center.

 

PARTICIPANTS: Nine men with spinal cord lesions.

INTERVENTION: Six weeks of cycling using a functional electrically stimulated leg cycle ergometer (FES-LCE).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Longitudinal images and simultaneous velocity spectra were measured in the common carotid (CA) and femoral (FA) arteries using quantitative duplex Doppler ultrasound examination. Arterial diameters, peak systolic inflow volumes (PSIVs), mean inflow volumes (MIVs), and a velocity index (VI), representing the peripheral resistance, were obtained at rest. PSIVs and VI were obtained during 3 minutes of hyperemia following 20 minutes of FA occlusion.

RESULTS: Training resulted in significant increases in diameter (p < .01), PSIVs (p < .01), and MIVs (p < .05), and reduced VI (p < .01) of the FA, whereas values in the CA remained unchanged. Postocclusive hyperemic responses were augmented, indicated by significantly higher PSIVs (p <.01) and a trend toward lower VI.

CONCLUSION: Six weeks of FES-LCE training increased the cross-sectional area of large conduit arteries and improved blood flow to the paralyzed legs of individuals with SCI.

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