Muscle changes following cycling and/or electrical stimulation in pediatric spinal cord injury

Therese E. Johnston, Christopher M. Modlesky, Randal R. Betz, Richard T. Lauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the effect of cycling, electrical stimulation, or both, on thigh muscle volume and stimulated muscle strength in children with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Children's hospital specializing in pediatric SCI. Participants: Children (N=30; ages, 513y) with chronic SCI. Interventions: Children were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 interventions: functional electrical stimulation cycling (FESC), passive cycling (PC), and noncycling, electrically stimulated exercise (ES). Each group exercised for 1 hour, 3 times per week for 6 months at home. Main Outcome Measures: Preintervention and postintervention, children underwent magnetic resonance imaging to assess muscle volume, and electrically stimulated isometric muscle strength testing with the use of a computerized dynamometer. Data were analyzed via analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) with baseline measures as covariates. Within-group changes were assessed via paired t tests. Results: All 30 children completed the training. Muscle volume data were complete for 24 children (8 FESC, 8 PC, 8 ES) and stimulated strength data for 27 children (9 per group). Per ANCOVA, there were differences between groups (P<.05) for quadriceps muscle volume and stimulated strength, with the ES group having greater changes in volume and the FESC group having greater changes in strength. Within-group analyses showed increased quadriceps volume and strength for the FESC group and increased quadriceps volume for the ES group. Conclusions: Children receiving either electrically stimulated exercise experienced changes in muscle size, stimulated strength, or both. These changes may decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and type 2 diabetes. Clinical Trials Registration Number: NCT00245726.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1937-1943
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrical stimulation
  • Muscles
  • Pediatrics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries


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