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Paraplegia. 1992 Sep;30(9):647-55.

A clinical exercise system for paraplegics using functional electrical stimulation.

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Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia.


A low cost clinical exercise system was developed for the spinal cord injured, based on a bicycle ergometer and electrical stimulation. A pilot project was conducted, using the system, to examine the effects of stimulation induced cycling in long term paraplegics. The project comprised 2 phases of exercise, a strengthening phase involving a 12 week programme of electrical stimulation to the quadriceps and hamstrings and a 12 week cycling phase. Physiological, morphological and biochemical parameters were measured for each subject, at the beginning of the programme and following each phase. Results showed that a programme of stimulation induced lower limb exercise increased the exercise tolerance of all patients, as determined by a progressive increase in exercise time, cycling rate and exercise load. The enhanced exercise tolerance was a result of increases in local muscle strength and endurance. Increases in thigh muscle area and joint range of motion were recorded and all incomplete subjects reported an improvement in functional capabilities and general wellbeing.

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