“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Spinal cord injury (SCI) and exercise:
The spinal cord is the major conduit through which the brain sends motor commands to the body and receives sensory information. SCI refers to damage to the spinal cord resulting from trauma (e.g. motor vehicle accidents or falls). SCI usually results in impairment of motor and sensory function, as well as autonomic function, like sweating and heart rate control. Two factors determine the functions impaired and the severity of impairment:
How does exercise help?
People with movement impairments, including people with SCI, are among the most physically inactive members of society. This profound physical inactivity leads to secondary complications of health, fitness and function. Considerations when exercising are that most frequently paralysed muscles are the large, lower-limb muscles, meaning that only the smaller muscles of the arms and shoulders can be used to stimulate the heart and lungs. People with tetraplegia may also have a reduced exercising heart rate due to impaired autonomic innervation. Nonetheless, research shows that aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections, a common problem in people with SCI. Resistance training improves strength of non-paralysed muscles and may improve strength of partially-paralysed muscles (and bones) as well. Most importantly, exercise intervention can enhance functional independence and is associated with greater life satisfaction, decreased depression/ anxiety and increased quality of life