Effects of circuit resistance training on fitness attributes and upper-extremity pain in middle-aged men with paraplegia.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of circuit resistance exercise (CRT) training on muscle strength, endurance, anaerobic power, and shoulder pain in middle-aged men with paraplegia.

DESIGN: Repeated testing.

SETTING: Academic medical center.

PARTICIPANTS: Seven men (age range, 39-58y) with motor-complete paraplegia from T5 to T12 and confirmed shoulder pain occurring during daily activities.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Subjects underwent a 4-month CRT program using alternating resistance maneuvers and high-speed, low-resistance arm exercise. One-repetition maximal force was measured before training and monthly thereafter. Pretraining and posttraining peak oxygen uptake (Vo(2)peak) was measured by graded arm testing. Anaerobic power was measured before and after training using a 30-second Wingate Anaerobic Test. Shoulder pain was self-evaluated by an index validated for people with spinal cord injury (Wheelchair Users Shoulder Pain Index [WUSPI]).

RESULTS: Strength increases ranging from 38.6% to 59.7% were observed for all maneuvers (P range, .005-.008). Vo(2)peak increased after training by 10.4% (P=.01), and peak and average anaerobic power increased by 6% (P=.001) and 8.6% (P=.005), respectively. WUSPI scores +/- standard deviation were lowered from 31.9+/-24.8 to 5.7+/-5.9 (P=.008), with 3 of 7 subjects reporting complete resolution of shoulder pain.

CONCLUSIONS: CRT improves muscle strength, endurance, and anaerobic power of middle-aged men with paraplegia while significantly reducing their shoulder pain.