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Methods and protocols for incremental exercise testing in tetraplegia, using arm-cranking exercise assisted by functional electrical stimulation

Coupaud, Sylvie and gollee, henrik and Hunt, Kenneth and Fraser, Matthew and Allan, David and McLean, Alan (2009) Methods and protocols for incremental exercise testing in tetraplegia, using arm-cranking exercise assisted by functional electrical stimulation. Biomedical Signal Processing and Control, 4 (1). pp. 67-78. ISSN 1746-8094

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Abstract

Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to tetraplegia, with paralysis and loss of sensation in the upper and lower limbs. The associated sedentary lifestyle results in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. To address this, we require the design of exercise modalities aimed specifically at tetraplegia and methods to assess their efficacy. This paper describes methods for arm-crank ergometry (ACE) assisted by Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) applied to the biceps and triceps. The instrumented ergometer enables work-rate control during exercise, implemented here for incremental exercise testing during FES-ACE. Detailed protocols for the tests are given. Experimental data collected during exercise tests with tetraplegic volunteers are provided to illustrate the feasibility of the proposed approach to testing and data analysis. Incremental tests enabled calculation of peak power output and peak oxygen uptake. We propose that the high-precision exercise testing protocols described here are appropriate to assess the efficacy of the novel exercise modality, FES-ACE, in tetraplegia.