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J Spinal Cord Med. 2017 Aug 3:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1360557. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of Intermittent Pneumatic Compression on Leg Vascular Function in People with Spinal Cord Injury: A Pilot Study.

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a School of Kinesiology , University of Southern Mississippi , Hattiesburg, MS , USA.
b The Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, NC , USA.


Objective The purpose of this pilot study was to determine whether 60 mins of intermittent pneumatic compression therapy (IPC) could acutely increase leg blood flow-induced shear stress and enhance vascular endothelial function in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design Pretest with multiple posttests, within subject randomized control design. Setting University of Southern Mississippi, Spinal Cord Injury Research Program within the School of Kinesiology, recruiting from the local community in Hattiesburg, Jackson, and Gulfport, MS. Participants Eight adults with SCI (injury level: T3 and below; ASIA class A-C; age: 41±17 yrs). Interventions A 60-min IPC session was performed in one leg (experimental leg; EXP), with the other leg serving as a control (CON). Outcomes Measures Posterior-tibial artery shear rate (Doppler-ultrasound) was examined at rest, and at 15 and 45 mins during IPC. Endothelial function was assessed using the flow-mediated dilation (FMD) technique, before and after IPC. Results Resting FMD (mm) was similar between legs at rest. A two-way repeated measures ANOVA (leg x time) revealed that during IPC, peak shear rate increased in the EXP leg (215±137 to 285±164 s-1 at 15 mins; +39±29%, P = 0.03), with no change occurring in the CON. In addition, FMD significantly increased in the EXP leg (Pre IPC: 0.36±0.14 vs. Post IPC: 0.47±0.17 mm; P = 0.011, d = 0.66), with no change occurring in the CON leg. Conclusion These preliminary findings suggests that IPC therapy may acutely increase leg shear stress within 15 mins, with a resultant moderate-large improvement in vascular endothelial function after 60 mins in people with SCI.


Compression Therapy; Endothelial Function; Spinal Injury

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