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Functional Electrical Stimulation


Functional Electrical Stimulation

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with both a state of chronic inflammation and an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). These disorders are closely linked and have been shown to negatively influence one another.

Participation in regular exercise has been shown to be an effective intervention strategy in the treatment of each of these disorders. For individuals with SCI who may lack the lower limb motor capabilities to perform certain traditional exercise modalities, functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling may provide an effective alternative.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 12 weeks of FES training performed 3 times per week on physiological indices of cardiovascular function as well as molecular indices of inflammation and cardiovascular health.

Methods: Ten individuals with chronic SCI were included. Measures of central and peripheral cardiovascular function as well as hematological and immunological markers were assessed before and after the 12-week exercise program.

Results: Enhancements in exercise performance as well as a corresponding increase in peripheral cardiovascular function were achieved, as shown by a significant 34% increase in pulse volume (P = .04) and trends toward increases in cross-sectional area (P = .09) and arterial inflow volume (P = .11) of the common femoral artery. Despite this, no change in any hematological or immunological markers was evident.

Conclusion: Although the efficacy of FES exercise in enhancing exercise performance (time and distance to fatigue) and peripheral cardiovascular function has been reaffirmed, no alterations in any molecular indices of cardiovascular risk were achieved.

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