Exercise and gait training in persons with paraplegia and its effect on muscle properties.
J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015;28(4):739-47
Authors: Bhide RP, Solomons C, Devsahayam S, Tharion G
BACKGROUND: Upper extremity strengthening and gait training with orthoses form a major part of inpatient rehabilitation of paraplegic patients in developing countries. This helps to overcome architectural barriers and limited wheelchair accessible environment in the community.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the changes in physiological properties of the Triceps Brachii muscle following exercise training in individuals with paraplegia. The authors also explored the correlation between muscle property changes and gait parameters using orthoses in paraplegic persons.
METHODS: Twelve subjects with complete paraplegia and neurological level of injury (NLI) from T9 to L1, underwent exercise training for a mean 64.1 ± 4.1 days. Triceps brachii was chosen as the sample muscle. Variables like arm circumference, time to fatigue and mean power frequency (MF) (surface EMG parameter), were recorded at the beginning and the end of training, during a sub-maximal isometric elbow extension. Non-parametric tests were used to assess statistical significance between the two recordings. Additionally, gait parameters like walking speed and distance (with the help of orthoses) were obtained and compared with the above variables, to determine impact of upper extremity strengthening on gait improvements in such patients.
RESULTS: Statistically significant changes were noted in bilateral arm circumferences (p= 0.003 bilaterally) and MF drop, expressed as percentage (right p= 0.04, left p= 0.01), indicative of better muscle resilience and adaptation. Significant positive correlation was observed between `time to fatigue’ and the orthoses-aided total walking distance (right ? = 0.65, left ? = 0.69).
CONCLUSIONS: Exercise training induces noticeable changes in the muscles of upper extremities favoring better muscle adaptation. Furthermore, positive correlation between `time to fatigue’ and (orthotic) aided walking distance highlights the positive impact of strengthening program on gait parameters in paraplegic patients. These findings are important and relevant in developing countries with environmental barriers. Upper extremity strengthening should be included in the rehabilitation of paraplegic patients who are being trained for ambulation with orthoses.
PMID: 25547234 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]