Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D

Volume 45 Number 2, 2008
Pages 283 — 296

JRRD at a Glance

Muscle and bone plasticity after spinal cord injury: Review of adaptations to disuse and to electrical muscle stimulation

Shauna Dudley-Javoroski, PT; Richard K. Shields, PhD, PT

Figure. Magnetic resonance imaging of subject who performed more than 3 years of soleus electrical stimulation training.

After spinal cord injury (SCI), muscles become smaller and more fatigable. Muscle contractions usually help bones maintain appropriate density. Without routine muscle contractions, bones develop severe osteoporosis, making fractures a serious problem for people with SCI. Rehabilitation researchers are exploring the use of electrical muscle stimulation to prevent muscle and bone deterioration after SCI. After electrical stimulation training, muscles generate higher forces and become less fatigable. Research is ongoing to discover the extent to which electrically elicited muscle contractions preserve bone density after SCI. The dose of musculoskeletal stress and the feasibility of delivering that dose should be carefully considered when designing new rehabilitative therapies in the future.

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