Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2006 , Vol 52 , Num 1

Cardio-Pulmonary and Metabolic Functions and Exercise Tolerance in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury

Serap Tomruk 1 ,Belma Füsun Köseoğlu 2 ,Nilüfer Kutay Ordu Gökkaya 3
1 Ankara Fizik Tedavi Rehabilitasyon Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Ankara
2 Clinic of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
3 Ankara Fizik Tedavi ve Rehabilitasyon Eğitim Araştırma Hastanesi, Kardiyopulmoner Rehabilitasyon Ünitesi, Ankara, Türkiye

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess cardiopulmonary and metabolic functions and exercise tolerance in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) in comparison with healthy subjects.


Materials and Methods: Twenty patients with paraplegia and fifteen healthy controls were included in the study. Fourteen patients were complete and six were incomplete according to the classification of the American Spinal Injury Association. Mean age of the patients was 31.31±8.17 years. The mean time since injury was 3.81±5.08 months. All subjects were considered either sedentary or minimally active and their upper bodies were not aerobically trained. Resting pulmonary functions were assessed spirometrically. Cardiopulmonary and metabolic responses to exercise were investigated with an electronically braked arm crank ergometry.


Results: There was a significant respiratory dysfunction in paraplegic patients. The mean peak oxygen consumption in the patient and control groups were 9.86±4.21 ml/kg/min and 14.27±1.59 ml/kg/min, respectively. Also, peak heart rate, peak minute ventilation, respiratory exchange ratio, peak power output values were lower in the paraplegic subjects than those in the healthy ones. As expected, healthy subjects reached significant higher values at peak exercise compared to the patient group (p range, <0.05 to 0.001).


Conclusion: In the present study, we determined that there was a significant respiratory dysfunction (60% in patients with SCI versus 1.3% in healthy controls, p<0.001) in the study population. Moreover, they had a decreased exercise tolerance and cardiopulmonary and metabolic responses to maximum exercise when compared to the healthy subjects.  

Keywords : Exercise tolerance, spinal cord injury, peak oxygen uptake