Objective: To test whether 12 weeks of exercise conditioning using functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) ambulation alters the resting lower extremity blood flow and hyperemic responses to vascular occlusion in subjects with paraplegia, and to determine whether an association exists between limb flow and lower extremity fat-free mass. Design: Pretest, posttest. Setting: Academic medical center. Participants: Subjects with chronic neurologically complete paraplegia. Intervention: Thirty-two sessions of microprocessor-controlled ambulation using electrically stimulated contractions of lower extremity muscles and a rolling walker. Outcome Measures: Subjects underwent quantitative Doppler ultrasound examination of the common femoral artery (CFA) before and after training. End-diastolic arterial images and arterial flow-velocity profiles obtained at rest and after 5 minutes of suprasystolic thigh occlusion were computer-digitized for analysis of heart rate (HR), CFA peak systolic velocity (PSV), CFA cross- sectional area (CSA), flow velocity integral (FVI), pulse volume (PV), and CFA (arterial) inflow volume (AIV). Results: Significant effects of training on CSA (p < .0001), FVI (p < .05), computed PV (p < .001), and computed AIV (p < .01) were observed. Resting HR was lower following training (p < .05). The change for resting PSV approached but did not reach significance (p = .083). Analysis of postocclusion PV and AIV showed significant effects for conditioning status (p values < .01), postcompression time (p values < .0001), and their interaction (p values < .01). At 1 minute after occlusion, the posttraining AIV response was 78.2% greater in absolute magnitude and 17.4% more robust when expressed as a percentage change from its resting value than before training. Significant correlations were found between thigh fat free mass and both AIV and PV (p values < .05). Conclusion: Exercise training using FNS ambulation increase the resting lower AIV in individuals with paraplegia and augments the hyperemic response to vascular occlusion. Improved posttraining blood flow is attributable both to vascular structural changes and upregulation of vascular flow control mechanisms. Limb mass is associated with the volume of arterial blood flow.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation