Functional electrical stimulation leg cycle ergometer exercise: Training effects on cardiorespiratory responses of spinal cord injured subjects at rest and during submaximal exercise

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      This study investigated the cardiorespiratory (CR) responses at rest and during submaximal (0-W) functional electrical stimulation (FES)-induced leg cycle ergometer (LCE) exercise prior to and following a progressive intensity FES-LCEa exercise training program in spinal cord injured (SCI) subjects. Seven quadriplegics and six paraplegics participated in FES-LCE training three sessions per week for approximately 12 weeks (36 sessions). Monitored CR responses, including oxygen uptake (V̇O2), pulmonary ventilation (V̇e), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), arteriovenous O2 difference (a-Math EqO2), blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), stroke volume (SV), total peripheral resistance (TPR), and cardiac output (Q̇), were determined before and after training. Power output (PO) increased significantly (p < .05) over the duration of the training program, indicating increased in strength and endurance of the paralyzed muscles used. Respiratory responses were not significantly altered by training in both groups. FES-LCE training significantly increased resting HR and SBP in quadriplegics and lowered SBP, DBP, and MAP in paraplegics. In both groups, HR and BP during submaximal exercise significantly decreased and SV and Q̇ significantly increased after completion of the training program. These results suggest that FES-LCE training improves peripheral muscular and central cardiovascular fitness in SCI subjects. Posttraining HR and BP may also be more stable in quadriplegics and alleviate hypotension. This therapeutic exercise may ultimately lead to improved rehabilitation outcome and reduced stress during activities of daily living, and possibly reduce the risks for secondary CR disabilities.


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