Relationships of oxygen uptake, heart rate, and ratings of perceived exertion in persons with paraplegia during functional neuromuscular stimulation assisted ambulation

Patrick L. Jacobs, K. John Klose, Rosalind Guest, Belinda Needham-Shropshire, James G. Broton, Barth A Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Previous reports have described significant limitations in the daily use of functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) ambulation systems by persons with spinal cord injuries (SCI). The potential application of these devices to provide physiological benefits as an exercise modality has prompted a reconsideration of the technology. However, the acute physiological effects related to the use of FNS systems have not been thoroughly examined. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships of oxygen consumpation (VO2), heart rate (HR), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during FNS ambulation by persons with SCI paraplegia. Eleven persons with thoracic level paraplegia, aged 21.5 to 38.0 years, participated in an incremental FNS ambulation test. Metabolic measures were collected continuously via open circuit spirometry as the subjects performed a series of ambulation passes of progressively increasing pace. At the end of each ambulation pass, HR and RPE measures were collected. The test was terminated when either the subjects judged the effort to be maximal or when the investigators deemed the effort to be maximal based on HR. A strong linear relationship was documented between the VO2 and HR measures of all subjects throughout subpeak levels of FNS ambulation. RPE did not vary proportionally with VO2 until relatively high levels of exercise intensity were reached. This study indicates that HR, but not RPE, is an appropriate indicator of exercise intensity for persons with SCI paraplegia using a FNS ambulation system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-298
Number of pages7
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 17 1997



  • Ambulation
  • Functional neuromuscular stimulation
  • Paraplegia
  • Rate of perceived exertion
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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