The Effect of Body Weight-Supported Treadmill Training on Muscle Morphology in an Individual With Chronic, Motor- Complete Spinal Cord Injury: A Case Study
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effects of 4 months of thrice-weekly body weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT) on skeletal muscle morphology in a woman (age 27 y) with chronic, motor-complete (ASIA B) spinal cord injury (SCI). METHODS: The participant performed passive thrice-weekly BWSTT for 4 months (48 total sessions) with manual assistance from therapists. Muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis were taken prior to the beginning of the training program as well as following the completion of 4 months of training. Histochemical analysis was utilized to evaluate changes in muscle fiber size and type following training. RESULTS: At baseline, vastus lateralis muscle biopsies showed evidence of fiber atrophy and fiber type redistribution typical of persons with SCI, with mean fiber areas (and % distributions) of type I, type IIa and type IIx fibers being 3474 microm2 (1.3%), 3146 microm2 (30.8%) and 1284 microm2 (68.0%), respectively. Following training, there were increases in treadmill walking speed (pre: 1.0km/h; post: 2.5km/h) and distance walked/session (pre: 500m; post: 1875m). Vastus lateralis mean fiber area increased by 27.1% and type I fiber % distribution increased to 24.6%, whereas type IIa and type IIx fiber % distributions both decreased following training. CONCLUSION: These data indicate that 4 months of thrice-weekly BWSTT improved muscle morphology in an individual with chronic, motor-complete SCI.