Home > Journals > European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine > Past Issues > European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2017 April;53(2) > European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2017 April;53(2):219-27



Publishing options
To subscribe
Submit an article
Recommend to your librarian


Publication history
Cite this article as


ORIGINAL ARTICLE   Free accessfree

European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2017 April;53(2):219-27

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.16.03804-1


language: English

The effects of upper extremity aerobic exercise in patients with spinal cord injury: a randomized controlled study

Halil AKKURT 1, Hale U. KARAPOLAT 1, Yesim KIRAZLI 1, Timur KOSE 2

1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Ege University, İzmir, Turkey; 2 Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine, Ege University, İzmir, Turkey


BACKGROUND: Immobility and secondary complications, including cardiopulmonary disease, pressure ulcers, and pain, occur in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). These patients also have difficulty coping with the strain of daily activities. Thus, it is important for SCI patients to engage in aerobic exercise in order to be able to cope adequately with the strain of activities and SCI-related complications.
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of arm aerobic exercise on the parameters of cardiopulmonary function, quality of life, degree of disability, psychological state, and metabolic syndrome.
DESIGN: This study was a single blind, randomized, controlled trial.
SETTING: This study was conducted in a university hospital.
POPULATION: SCI patients were randomly assigned to an intervention group (N.=17) or a control group (N.=16). Arm ergometer exercises (three days/week; 1.5 hours/week 50-70% pVO2) and general exercises (two sessions/day; 5 days/week), were assigned to the intervention group for 12 weeks. The control group was assigned general exercises only during this trial.
METHODS: Before the rehabilitation (Week 0), after six weeks, and after the rehabilitation (Week 12), all patients were evaluated for functional status (maximal oxygen uptake [pVO2], power output [PO], and Functional Independence Measurement), pulmonary function (FEV1%, FVC%, FEV1/FVC%), quality of life (World Health Organization Measure of Quality of Life, short form, Turkish version), metabolic syndrome parameters (triglycerides, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, waist circumference, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure), degree of disability (Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique, short form), and psychological status (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).
RESULTS: At the end of the study, increases of 39.6% and 45.4% in the pVO2 and PO levels, respectively, were found. Additionally, no statistically significant difference was found in the intervention group after the rehabilitation compared to the levels before rehabilitation (P<0.05). However, no statistically significant differences in functional status, quality of life, psychological state, level of disability, or metabolic syndrome parameters were found in the intervention group (P>0.05). The control group, on the other hand, showed no clinically significant differences in any of the parameters (P>0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Short-term arm aerobic exercise performed by patients with SCI improves their exercise capacities. These patients require longer rehabilitation programs to receive more benefits from aerobic exercise training.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Adding arm cranking exercise training to the rehabilitation program of patients with spinal cord injury demonstrated improved exercise capacity; however, further studies are needed to assess the effects of exercise training on other health issues.

KEY WORDS: Spinal cord injuries - Exercise - Ergometry

top of page