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The combination of lower extremity resistance and plyometric training (RPT) can attenuate existing neuromuscular impairments and improve gait speed in persons after incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI), says an article in July issue of Spinal Cord (Vol 45, No 7). APTA members Chris Michael Gregory, PT, PhD, and Andrea Berhman, PT, PhD, are coauthors.
The study's objective was to determine if a 12-week RPT in a university research setting would result in improved muscle function and locomotor speed after incomplete SCI.
Three ambulatory individuals with chronic (average time post-injury 18.7 months) motor incomplete SCI completed 12 weeks of lower extremity RPT. Maximum cross-sectional area (max-CSA) of the knee extensor (KE) and plantar flexor (PF) muscle groups was determined using magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, peak isometric torque, time-to-peak torque (T 20–80), torque developed within the initial 220 ms of contraction (torque220), and average rate of torque development (ARTD) were calculated as indices of muscle function. Maximal as well as self-selected gait speeds were determined pre- and post-RPT during which the spatio-temporal characteristics, kinematics, and kinetics of gait were measured.
RPT resulted in improved peak torque production in the KE and PF muscle groups, as well as a decrease in T 20–80, an increase in torque220 and ARTD in both muscle groups. In addition, an increase in self-selected (pre-RPT=0.77 m/s; post-RPT=1.03 m/s) and maximum (pre-RPT=1.08 m/s; post-RPT=1.47 m/s) gait speed was realized. Increased gait speeds were accompanied by bilateral increases in propulsion and hip excursion, as well as increased lower extremity joint powers.
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