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Auton Neurosci. 2018 Jan;209:100-104. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2017.03.006. Epub 2017 Apr 4.

Implications of altered autonomic control on sports performance in athletes with spinal cord injury.

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University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:


It is well known that athletes with spinal cord injury (SCI) may experience altered autonomic physiology that impacts their exercise capacity and sports performance. This is particularly relevant given the ever-increasing number of individuals with SCI who are actively engaged in sports at all levels, from community-based adaptive sports to elite Paralympic competitions. As such, the purpose of this article is to review the present literature regarding the implications of altered autonomic control on the safety and performance of athletes with SCI. A particular emphasis will be placed on the autonomic aspects of cardiovascular and thermoregulatory control in the athlete population, as well as the implications of autonomic dysreflexia in enhancing sports performance. Further research is needed to understand the autonomic factors that influence athletes with SCI in order to ensure optimal and safe sports competition. Additionally, this information is crucially relevant to the coaches, sports administrators, and team medical staff who work closely with athletes with SCI.


Adaptive sports; Athlete; Autonomic dysfunction; Paralympics; Safety; Sports performance

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