Physiological responses to exergaming after spinal cord injury

Patricia Burns, Jochen Kressler, Mark Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate whether exergaming satisfies guideline-based intensity standards for exercise conditioning (40%/50% oxygen uptake reserve [VO<sub>2</sub>R] or heart rate reserve (HRR), or 64%/70% of peak heart rate [HR<sub>peak</sub>]) in persons with paraplegia. Methods: Nine men and women (18-65 years old) with chronic paraplegia (T1-L1, AIS A-C) underwent intensity-graded arm cycle exercise (AE) to evaluate VO<sub>2peak</sub> and HR<sub>peak</sub> On 2 randomized nonconsecutive days, participants underwent graded exercise using a custom arm cycle ergometer that controls the video display of a Nintendo Gamecube (GameCycle; Three Rivers Holdings LLC, Mesa, AZ) or 15 minutes of incrementally wrist-weighted tennis gameplay against a televised opponent (XaviX Tennis System; SSD Co Ltd, Kusatsu, Japan). Results: GameCycle exergaming (GCE) resistance settings ≥0.88 Nm evoked on average ≥50% VO<sub>2</ sub>R. During XaviX Tennis System exergaming (XTSE) with wrist weights ≥2 lbs, average VO<sub>2</sub> reached a plateau of ~40% VO<sub>2</sub>R. Measurements of HR were highly variable and reached average values ≥50% HRR during GCE at resistance settings ≥0.88 Nm. During XTSE, average HR did not reach threshold levels based on HRR for any wrist weight (20%-35% HRR). Conclusions: On average, intensity responses to GCE at resistance setting ≥0.88 Nm were sufficient to elicit exercise intensities needed to promote cardiorespiratory fitness in individuals with SCI. The ability of XTSE to elicit cardiorespiratory fitness benefits is most likely limited to individuals with very low fitness levels and may become subminimal with time if used as a conditioning stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • exercise guidelines
  • exercise prescription
  • spinal cord injury
  • video game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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