Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):16, 96, 12, 1919-1929
Study evaluated the effects of short-term manipulations in locomotor intensity on gait performance in people with motor incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI) and investigated potential detrimental effects of high-intensity locomotor training on walking performance. Nineteen individuals with chronic iSCI performed a graded-intensity locomotor exercise task with simultaneous collection of lower-extremity kinematic and electromyographic data. Measures of interest were compared across intensity levels of 33 percent, 67 percent, and 100 percent of peak gait speed. A subset of 9 individuals participated in 12 weeks of high-intensity locomotor training. Similar measurements were collected and compared between pre-training and post-training evaluations. The results indicate that short-term increases in intensity led to significant improvements in muscle activity, spatiotemporal metrics, and joint excursions, with selected improvements in measures of locomotor coordination. High-intensity locomotor training led to significant increases in peak gait speed (0.64–0.80 meters per second), and spatiotemporal and kinematic metrics indicate a trend for improved coordination. Findings suggest that high-intensity locomotor exercise and training does not degrade, but rather improves, locomotor function and quality in individuals with iSCI, which contrasts with traditional theories of motor dysfunction following neurologic injury.