European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 503-507

First online:

Thermoregulatory stress during rest and exercise in heat in patients with a spinal cord injury

  • Jerrold S. PetrofskyAffiliated withPetrofsky Center for Rehabilitation and ResearchWright State University

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Twelve subjects with spinal cord injuries and four controls (all male) were exposed to heat while sitting at rest or working at each of three environmental temperatures, 30, 35 and 40°C, with a relative humidity of 50%. Exercise was accomplished at a load of 50 W on a friction-braked cycle ergometer which was armcranked or pedalled. Functional electrical stimulation of the legs was provided to the subjects with quadriplegia and paraplegia to allow them to pedal a cycle ergometer. The data showed that individuals with quadriplegia had the poorest tolerance for heat. As an example, in this group, accomplishing armcrank ergometry while working at an environmental temperature of 40°C resulted in an increase in aural temperature of 2°C in 30 min. The aural temperature of individuals with paraplegia working for the same length of time under the same conditions rose approximately 1°C. There was virtually no change in the aural temperature in the control subjects.

Key words

Exercise Thermoregulation Heat stress Paraplegia Quadriplegia