Exercise Therapy After Spinal Cord Injury: The Effects on Heath and Function
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Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) are susceptible to an array of secondary health complications. Some of these health concerns are attributable to the SCI per se, but many are secondary to the resulting immobility. For example, the incidence of pressure ulcers, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are greatly increased in this population. Despite the need for exercise training as a means to reverse these health risks, individuals with SCI have traditionally been one of the most inactive segments of society. Physical activity programs and information about how activity can promote health are two of the services most desired but least available to people with SCI. Recently, efforts have been made to increase exercise options for individuals with SCI and to study the health benefits of exercise in this population. Accessible resistance and aerobic exercise training, functional electrically stimulated exercise, and body weight-supported treadmill training have all shown promise as ways to reverse some of the physiological consequences of SCI. Future research will determine whether these physiological adaptations actually translate to a long-term reduction in disease and mortality.
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