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 (VO 2peak (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 VO 2peak 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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology