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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 40 Number 6, November/December 2003
Pages 501 — 510


Improved upper-body endurance following a 12-week home exercise program for manual wheelchair users
Randall E. Keyser, PhD; Elizabeth K. Rasch, MSPT; Margaret Finley, MA, PT; Mary M. Rodgers, PhD, PT
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Physical Therapy, Baltimore, MD; Department of
Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, Baltimore, MD
Abstract — This study determined if a 12-week monitored home exercise program would improve cardiorespiratory endurance in a heterogeneous group of manual wheelchair users, which incorporated subsets of individuals with and without upper-limb impairment. Twenty-seven subjects made up two groups of manual wheelchair users: 20 without upper-limb impairment and 7 with upper-limb impairment. Subjects completed wheelchair ergometer tests using a 1 min JUMP protocol that resulted in volitional exhaustion in 6 to12 min. Following a recovery period (time > 30 min), subjects completed subsequent constant work rate endurance tests to exhaustion at a power output corresponding to 60% of the maximum attained on the JUMP test. Subjects then underwent 12 weeks of simulated wheelchair rolling exercise using elastic straps positioned to mimic the motion of propulsion. JUMP and constant work rate tests were performed before training and after 6 and 12 weeks of exercise. Oxygen consumption (VO2) increased from rest to peak exercise in both groups and was significantly (p < 0.016) higher at peak for subjects without upper-limb impairment than for those with upper-limb impairment. Heart rate (HR) responses between the groups were similar. No significant differences in peak VO2, anaerobic threshold, or peak HR were observed at 6 or 12 weeks of the training program. Substantial improvement (p < 0.001) in maximum constant work rate tests time (10.37 2.79 min) was noted at 6 and 12 weeks, with no significant difference between 6 and 12 weeks and no significant intergroup difference. Results of this study indicated that simulated propulsion exercise endurance was improved as a result of the home exercise program.
Key words: aerobic capacity, endurance, exercise conditioning, manual wheelchair users, upper-limb impairment, wheelchair propulsion.

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