Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

David Dolbow

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


Background and Purpose: Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at a higher risk of sedentarism and the health risks that are associated with inactivity (Gorgey, Dolbow, Dolbow, Khalil & Gater, 2015). Because this population has limited exercise options due to paralysis, a new protocol of resistance-guided, high intensity interval training functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling was developed to allow people with SCI to utilize their paralyzed legs as opposed to their overused arms. This new protocol is important as it provides an opportunity to restore body composition to a more favorable muscle to fat ratio decreasing obesity and increasing cardiovascular health.

Case Description: A 34-year-old male with a complete T9 SCI.

Intervention: The participant underwent resistance-guided high intensity interval training (RG-HIIT) FES cycling three times a week for 8 weeks. Before and after this training, the participant’s, body composition was measured using a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanner, cardiovascular health was assessed via flow mediated dilation testing with Doppler ultrasound, and average blood sugar/glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were estimated.

Results: The participant showed an increase in leg-lean mass by 8.6%, increased blood flow (reactive hyperemia) by 59.5%, and decreased fasting blood glucose levels (glycemic control) by 1.2%.

Discussion: The changes in the participant’s leg-lean mass, reactive hyperemia, and glycemic control show that RG-HIIT-FES cycling had a positive effect on the participant’s body composition and cardiometabolic health. However, these results could have been better controlled had the participant undergone nutritional counseling; future studies will aim to add this control.