The effect of training on endurance and the cardiovascular responses of individuals with paraplegia during dynamic exercise induced by functional electrical stimulation

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Endurance for dynamic exercise, cardiac output, blood pressure, heart rate, ventilation, and oxygen consumption was measured in eight individuals with paraplegia at the end of 4-min bouts of exercise on a friction braked cycle ergometer. Movement of the subjects' legs was induced by electrically stimulating the quadriceps, gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles with a computer-controlled biphasic square — wave current at a frequency of 30 Hz. The friction braked cycle ergometer was pedalled at work rates which varied between 0 and 40 W. Measurements were repeated after 3 and 6 months to assess the affect of training. After 3 months of training it was found that endurance increased from 8 min at a work rate of 0 W to 30 min at a work rate of 40 W. Compared to the cardiovascular responses in non-paralyzed subjects, computerized cycle ergometry was found to be associated with higher relative stresses for a given level of absolute work. Mean blood pressure, for example, increased by over 30% during maximal work in individuals with paralysis compared to the typical response obtained for able-bodied subjects. Analysis of the data showed that instead of the 20-30% metabolic efficiency commonly reported for cycle ergometry, the calculated metabolic efficiency during computer-controlled cycle ergometry was only 3.6%.

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Correspondence to Jerrold S. Petrofsky.

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Petrofsky, J.S., Stacy, R. The effect of training on endurance and the cardiovascular responses of individuals with paraplegia during dynamic exercise induced by functional electrical stimulation. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 64, 487–492 (1992) doi:10.1007/BF00843755

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Key words

  • Exertion
  • Exercise
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegic
  • Spinal cord injury