Handcycling Training in Men with Spinal Cord Injury Increases Tolerance to High Intensity Exercise.

Barbara Hall, Marcin Sikora, Dominik Jonas, Eleanor Matthews, Aleksandra Zebrowska

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Individuals with spinal cord injury are characterised by reduced physical capacity as compared to able-bodied persons, and are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study aimed to evaluate the differences in physiological responses to an exercise test in handcycling-trained vs. able-bodied-trained and non-trained men. Eight males with spinal cord injury who were trained in handcycling, eighteen able-bodied males who were trained in powerlifting, and fourteen physically active non-athletes performed a graded arm crank ergometer test. The following physiological indices were measured before and during the test: heart rate, oxygen uptake, and blood lactate concentrations. Aerobic capacity was significantly higher in athletes with spinal cord injury compared to able-bodied athletes (p<0.01) and the control group (p<0.01). The heart rate achieved by handcycling-trained athletes was significantly lower as compared to powerlifters (p<0.01), however, the oxygen pulse was significantly higher (p<0.05). Handcycling-trained athletes reached significantly higher peak power (Pmax) during the graded arm exercise in comparison with powerlifters, and significantly higher post exercise blood lactate concentration (p<0.05). The lactate threshold was observed at a significantly higher P in individuals with spinal cord injury compared to able-bodied-trained (p<0.05) and non-trained men (p<0.001). Athletes with spinal cord injury were found to have excellent aerobic capacity and better physiological adaptation to the maximal graded exercise test as compared to able-bodied-trained men. These findings emphasize the importance of regular physical exercise and its potential therapeutic role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients with spinal cord injury.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Human Kinetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2022


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