To assess components of health-related physical fitness in adolescents and young adults with myelomeningocele (MMC), and to study relations between aerobic capacity and other health-related physical fitness components. This cross-sectional study included 50 adolescents and young adults with MMC, aged 16–30 years (25 males). Aerobic capacity was quantified by measuring peak oxygen uptake (peakVO2) during a maximal exercise test on a cycle or arm ergometer depending on the main mode of ambulation. Muscle strength of upper and lower extremity muscles was assessed using a hand-held dynamometer. Regarding flexibility, we assessed mobility of hip, knee and ankle joints. Body composition was assessed by measuring thickness of four skin-folds. Relations were studied using linear regression analyses. Average peakVO2 was 1.48 ± 0.52 l/min, 61% of the participants had subnormal muscle strength, 61% had mobility restrictions in at least one joint and average sum of four skin-folds was 74.8 ± 38.8 mm. PeakVO2 was significantly related to gender, ambulatory status and muscle strength, explaining 55% of its variance. Adolescents and young adults with MMC have poor health-related physical fitness. Gender and ambulatory status are important determinants of peakVO2. In addition, we found a small, but significant relationship between peakVO2 and muscle strength.

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European Journal of Applied Physiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Buffart, L., van den Berg-Emons, R., van Wijlen-Hempel, M., Stam, H., & Roebroeck, M. (2008). Health-related physical fitness of adolescents and young adults with myelomeningocele. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 103(2), 181–188. doi:10.1007/s00421-008-0684-z