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Paraplegia. 1994 Jun;32(6):407-15.

Musculoskeletal effects of an electrical stimulation induced cycling programme in the spinal injured.

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Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia.


Twelve patients were involved in a 3 month stimulation induced cycling programme at the Royal Perth Rehabilitation Hospital. A number of the patients were less than 1 year post injury, all except one had an incomplete injury, and most were receiving physiotherapy. All patients who completed the programme increased their time of cycling and, in all but one case, the exercise load, indicative of a local training effect. Significant improvements were found in voluntary isometric strength, stimulated isometric strength and stimulated isometric endurance of the quadriceps, muscle grading of the quadriceps and biceps femoris and the cross-sectional areas of the quadriceps and total thigh muscle. No change was found in voluntary isokinetic strength of the quadriceps. All patients with incomplete injuries reported improvements in the activities of daily living (ADL) after the programme. Bone mineral density (BMD) was examined in two patients, one less than 1 year post injury, and one greater than 4 years post injury. The programme of cycling did not restore BMD in the latter patient. However, while the former patient still displayed a reduced BMD after the programme, it is unknown whether this loss of bone was retarded. This needs further investigation. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a combined physiotherapy/cycling programme in the rehabilitation of people with spinal injuries. To be successful this type of programme has to be incorporated into the rehabilitation process, as has been done at the Sir George Bedbrook Spinal Unit.

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