Cycling with and without electrical stimulation may be beneficial for skeletal health in children with spinal cord injury (SCI), but further research is needed with a larger sample size, say authors of an article published online March 22 in Spinal Cord.
This randomized clinical trial was conducted in a children's hospital specializing in pediatric SCI. A total of 30 children, aged 5-13 years, with chronic SCI were randomized to 1 of 3 interventions—functional electrical stimulation cycling (FESC), passive cycling (PC), and non-cycling, electrically stimulated exercise (ES). Each group exercised for 1 hour, 3 times per week for 6 months at home. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the hip, distal femur, and proximal tibia were examined via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) pre- and post-intervention.
In all, 28 children completed data collection. The FESC group exhibited increases in hip, distal femur, and proximal tibia BMD of 32.4, 6.62 and 10.3%, respectively. The PC group exhibited increases at the hip (29.2%), but no change at the distal femur (1.5%) or proximal tibia (-1.0%). The ES group had no change at the hip (-0.24%) and distal femur (3.3%), but sustained loss at the proximal tibia (-7.06%). There were no differences between groups or within groups over time. Significant negative correlations were found between baseline BMD and the amount of BMD change.
Although not achieving statistical significance, hip BMD changes observed were greater than the reported 0.9-10% gains after exercise for children with and without disability.
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