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Medicina dello Sport 1998 December;51(4):361-73


language: Italian

Cardiorespiratory and metabolic adjustments during submaximal and maximal exercise in polio athletes

Veicsteinas A. 1, Sarchi P. 2, Mattiotti S. 1, Bignotto M. 3, Belleri M. 1

1 ECUS Centro Interuniversitario Europeo per le Scienze Sportive, Rovereto (Trento); 2 Centro di Medicina dello Sport, Fondazione Don C. Gnocchi, IRCCS, Milano; 3 Istituto Superiore di Educazione Fisica della Lombardia, Milano


Many individuals who have had poliomyelitis are involved in muscular exercise and are frequently evaluated in the Sports Medical Centres in our country. This paper was aimed to evaluate whether, by means of submaximal and maximal ergometric tests, the existence of a post-polio syndrome (PPS) can be assessed. The PPS includes muscle atrophy, general fatigue, weakness and muscle, joint pain and affects 20-30% of the patients 30-40 years after the initial bout with the disease. Moreover the fitness level and the cardiorespiratory adjustments to exercise were assessed in poliomyelitis individuals of various ages and different training levels.
Two groups of polio athletes with lesions restricted to the lower limbs were recruited. Group A, males, n = 9; 46±4.8 (SD) years, initial bout at age 1-6; walking aids required, all involved in the “crutch -soccer” sport since 30 years. Group B, males, n=8; 30±3 years, initial bout at age 1-5, wheelchair users, elite basket ball players. Ac and Bc groups were the corresponding healthy sedentary controls. After medical examination and respiratory function tests, the cardiorespiratory adjustments to submaximal and maximal exercise were assessed at steady state on the wheelchair ergometer. In the controls the peak of oxygen (V.O2p) was also determined during bicycle exercise.
In A group no signs or symptoms of post-polio syndrome were detected. HR/V.O2 and V.E/V.O2 relationships during submaximal exercises were similar in polio and healthy controls. V.O2p peak (ml.min-1.kg-1) on the wheelchair ergometer was 20.5±2 (SE) in A; 19.6±3 in Ac; 30.3±1 in B and 20.8 ±3 in Bc: On the bicycle V.O2p was 28.8±3 in Ac and 31.3±3 in Bc. Ventilatory equivalent and oxygen pulse were similar in all groups.
We conclude that presumably training for many years may help to prevent the post-polio syndrome. Moreover, basket ball played at high level substantially improves the fitness level of polio individuals and may counteract the expected negative evolution of the muscular function of these patients.

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