Objective: To examine the task-nonspecific effects of functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS)-assisted ambulation training on the physiological responses of persons with paraplegia to upper extremity exercise challenge. Design: Before-after trial. Setting: Human spinal cord injury (SCI) applied research laboratory. Participants: Twelve men and three women with motor- and sensory-complete thoracic-level SCI (T4-T11), mean age 28.2 ± 6.8yrs (range, 21.1 to 45.2yrs), mean injury duration 3.7 ± 3.0yrs (range, 7 to 8.8yrs). Intervention: Thirty-two sessions of FNS ambulation training using a commercial six-channel system (Parastep® 1). This system is composed of a microprocessor-controlled electrical stimulation unit and a walking frame outfitted with finger switches that allow the user to independently control the system and stimulation parameters. Outcome Measures: Peak and subpeak physiological responses to arm ergometry testing and upper extremity strength measures, obtained before and after the FNS ambulation training. Results: Statistically significant increases in peak values for time to fatigue, peak power output, and peak V̇O2 (all p < .001). Heart rate was significantly lower throughout subpeak levels of arm ergometry after the ambulation training (p < .05). Values of upper extremity strength were not significantly altered after training. Conclusions: FNS ambulation by persons with SCI paraplegia results in task-nonspecific training adaptations. Central cardiovascular adaptations were indicated as the primary source of these beneficial alterations in exercise responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation