Wellness with spinal cord injury: Can osteoporosis and impaired glucose tolerance be improved through aerobic conditioning?
Purpose. To identify if common complications of spinal cord injury namely impaired glucose tolerance and osteoporosis can be improved through aerobic cardiovascular exercise. Sample. Study consisted of volunteer participants with diagnosis of chronic spinal cord injury that were enrolled in an out-patient rehabilitation program consisting of walking with a bracing system and walker alone and a bracing system enhanced by functional electrical stimulation. Methods. The participants walked for a total of 30 minutes during each session three times a week for six weeks, then did not walk or receive treatment for another six weeks, before a second phase of walking began that lasted another six weeks. Prior to beginning the first walking session, bone density exams and blood fructosamine were conducted to establish a baseline. These exams were given again at the end of the first walking phase, at the end of the layover/rest period, and lastly at the end of the second walking phase. Statistical Analysis. Research design consisted of two single-subject research designs. Pre- and post-exercise HR, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and distance ambulated were compared using an A-B-A design and celeration lines with the split middle approach. Bone density and blood fructosamine levels for the baseline phase and the intervention phase were compared using descriptive statistics. Results. Bone density increased in both right and left calcaneus in one subject, and increased in right calcaneus in the other. Blood fructosamine levels remained normal throughout the study, however, a trend was seen demonstrating decreased levels during intervention phases and increased levels during the lay off period. Conclusions. Subjects' glucose tolerance displayed improvement following bouts of aerobic exercise, and showed a trend back to baseline during layover period. Osteoporosis improved substantially in one subject and minimally in the other.