Electrically Induced Cycling and Nutritional Counseling for Counteracting Obesity After Spinal Cord Injury: A Pilot Study

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Kinesiology and Nutrition


Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the preliminary efficacy of interval functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling combined with nutritional counseling in obese adults with SCI.

Setting: Community-based individuals with chronic SCI.

Participants: Ten participants with chronic SCI.

Interventions: Participants were divided into 2 groups (1) FES cycling and nutritional counseling (FES & Nutri) and (2) nutritional counseling only (Nutri Only). The FES & Nutri group performed high intensity interval FES cycling for 30 min 3 times per week for 8 weeks and received nutritional counseling for 30 min once per week for 8 weeks. The Nutri Only group received the nutritional counseling only.

Outcome Measures: Body composition (fat mass, lean mass, body fat percentage), blood glucose levels.

Results: Participants in the FES & Nutri group had a statistically significant greater decrease in body fat percentage (M = −1.14) compared to those in the Nutri Only group (M = +0.28) and gained more lean mass in their legs (M = +0.66 kg) compared to the Nutri Only group (M = –1.05 kg).

Discussion/Conclusion: The statistically significant decrease in body fat percentage for the FES & Nutri group provides evidence that further study is merited. Future studies should include larger numbers of participants and the possible introduction of a preliminary strengthening program before initiating interval FES cycling. In addition, an increase in exercise volume and a greater role for nutritional counseling should be considered in order to optimize the treatment for obesity.

Publication Title

Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine

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