Effects of aerobic exercise training on fitness and walking-related outcomes in ambulatory individuals with chronic incomplete spinal cord injury

N. D. DiPiro, A. E. Embry, S. L. Fritz, A. Middleton, J. S. Krause, C. M. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Study design:Single group, pretest–post-test study.Objectives:To determine the effects of a non-task-specific, voluntary, progressive aerobic exercise training (AET) intervention on fitness and walking-related outcomes in ambulatory adults with chronic motor-incomplete SCI.Setting:Rehabilitation research center.Methods:Ten ambulatory individuals (50% female; 57.94±9.33 years old; 11.11±9.66 years postinjury) completed voluntary, progressive moderate-to-vigorous intensity AET on a recumbent stepper 3 days per week for 6 weeks. The primary outcome measures were aerobic capacity (VO2peak (volume of oxygen that the body can use during physical exertion)) and self-selected overground walking speed (OGWS). Secondary outcome measures included walking economy, 6-minute walk test (6MWT), daily step counts, Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI-II), Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) and Berg Balance Scale (BBS).Results:Nine participants completed all testing and training. Significant improvements in aerobic capacity (P=0.011), OGWS (P=0.023), the percentage of VO2peak used while walking at self-selected speed (P=0.03) and daily step counts (P=0.025) resulted following training.Conclusions:The results indicate that total-body, voluntary, progressive AET is safe, feasible, and effective for improving aerobic capacity, walking speed, and select walking-related outcomes in an exclusively ambulatory SCI sample. This study suggests the potential for non-task-specific aerobic exercise to improve walking following incomplete SCI and builds a foundation for further investigation aimed at the development of exercise based rehabilitation strategies to target functionally limiting impairments in ambulatory individuals with chronic SCI.Spinal Cord advance online publication, 15 December 2015; doi:10.1038/sc.2015.212.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSpinal Cord
StateAccepted/In press - Dec 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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