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Effects of Wheelchair Sports on Respiratory Muscle Strength and Thoracic Mobility of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Moreno, Marlene Aparecida PhD; Zamunér, Antonio Roberto MSc; Paris, Juliana Viana MSc; Teodori, Rosana Macher PhD; Barros, Ricardo M.L. PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: June 2012 - Volume 91 - Issue 6 - p 470–477
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3182adcb0
Original Research Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of wheelchair sports on respiratory muscle strength and the thoracic mobility of individuals with spinal cord injury.

Design Thirty male subjects with chronic spinal cord injury (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade A) took part in the study and were divided into four groups: sedentary subjects with quadriplegia (S-QUAD, n = 7), wheelchair rugby athletes with quadriplegia (A-QUAD, n = 8), sedentary subjects with paraplegia (S-PARA, n = 6), and wheelchair basketball athletes with paraplegia (A-PARA, n = 9). The main outcome measures were maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure and the respiratory coefficients at the axillary and xiphoid levels.

Results A-QUAD group presented values significantly higher for all respiratory variables studied compared with the S-QUAD group. No significant differences in any of the respiratory variables were observed between S-PARA and A-PARA groups. There was a negative correlation between spinal cord injury level and respiratory variables for the S-QUAD and S-PARA groups. There were positive correlations in the A-QUAD group between time of training and maximal inspiratory pressure (adjusted R 2 = 0.84; P = 0.001) and respiratory coefficients at the axillary level (adjusted R 2 = 0.80; P = 0.002).

Conclusions Physical training seems to have a positive influence on respiratory muscle strength and thoracic mobility, especially in subjects with quadriplegia.

From the College of Health Science, Methodist University of Piracicaba, Piracicaba (MAM, RMT); Department of Physical Therapy, Federal University of São Carlos, São Carlos (ARZ); and College of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil (JVP, RMLB).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Marlene Aparecida Moreno, PhD, Postgraduate program in physical therapy, Methodist University of Piracicaba, Rodovia do Açúcar, Km 156, Taquaral, Piracicaba – SP, 13.400-901, Brasil.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

Supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq): Process 473729/2008-3—financial support to projects that contribute significantly to the scientific and technologic development of the country; Process 304975/2009-5–productivity research fellowship for Dr. Ricardo M.L. Barros as appreciation of his scientific production, using criteria established by CNPq.

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.