Objective: To investigate the effects of low-intensity wheelchair training on wheelchair-specific fitness, wheelchair skill performance and physical activity levels in inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Participants: Inactive manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury for at least 10 years (n = 29), allocated to exercise (n = 14) or no exercise. Methods: The 16-week training consisted of wheelchair treadmill-propulsion at 30-40% heart rate reserve or equivalent in terms of rate of perceived exertion, twice a week, for 30 min per session. Wheelchair-specific fitness was determined as the highest 5-s power output over 15-m overground wheelchair sprinting (P5-15m), isometric push-force, submaximal fitness and peak aerobic work capacity. Skill was determined as performance time, ability and strain scores over a wheelchair circuit. Activity was determined using a questionnaire and an odometer. Results: Significant training effects appeared only in P5-15m (exercise vs control: mean +2.0 W vs -0.7 W, p = 0.017, ru=0.65). Conclusion: The low-intensity wheelchair training appeared insufficient for substantial effects in the sample of inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury, presumably in part owing to a too-low exercise frequency. Effective yet feasible and sustainable training, as well as other physical activity programmes remain to be developed for inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury. Key words: activities of daily living; paraplegia; physical activity; physical fitness; spinal cord injuries; tetraplegia; rehabilitation; wheelchairs.

dx.doi.org/10.2340/16501977-2037, hdl.handle.net/1765/85963
Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

Van Der Scheer, J.W, de Groot, S, Tepper, M, Faber, W, Veeger, D.H, van der Woude, L.H, … Woldring, F. (2016). Low-intensity wheelchair training in inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury: A randomized controlled trial on fitness, wheelchair skill performance and physical activity levels. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 48(1), 33–42. doi:10.2340/16501977-2037