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Arm-cranking exercise assisted by functional electrical stimulation in C6 tetraplegia : a pilot study

Coupaud, Sylvie and Gollee, Henrik and Hunt, Kenneth and Fraser, Matthew and Allan, David and McLean, Alan (2008) Arm-cranking exercise assisted by functional electrical stimulation in C6 tetraplegia : a pilot study. Technology and Health Care, 16 (6). pp. 415-427. ISSN 0928-7329

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Tetraplegic volunteers undertook progressive exercise training, using novel systems for arm-cranking exercise assisted by Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). The main aim was to determine potential training effects of FES-assisted arm-crank ergometry (FES-ACE) on upper limb strength and cardiopulmonary (fitness) in tetraplegia. Surface FES was applied to the biceps and triceps during exercise on an instrumented ergometer. Two tetraplegic volunteers with C6 Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) went through muscle strengthening, baseline exercise testing and three months of progressive FES-ACE training. Repeat exercise tests were carried out every four weeks during training, and post-training, to monitor upper-limb strength and cardiopulmonary fitness. At each test point, an incremental test was carried out to determine peak work rate, peak oxygen uptake, gas exchange threshold and oxygen uptake-work rate relationship during FES-ACE. Peak oxygen uptake for Subject A increased from 0.7 l/min to 1.1 l/min, and peak power output increased from 7 W to 38 W after FES-ACE training. For Subject B, peak oxygen uptake was unchanged, but peak power output increased from 3 W to 8 W. These case studies illustrate potential benefits of FES-ACE in tetraplegia, but also the differences in exercise responses between individuals.