Characteristics of body heat balance of paraplegics during exercise in a hot environment

J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2001 Jul;20(4):227-32. doi: 10.2114/jpa.20.227.


The purpose of this investigation was to clarify the characteristics of body temperature regulation in paraplegics due to spinal cord injury (SCI) during an arm cranking exercise in a hot environment. Twelve paraplegics with lesions located between Th3 and L1,2 and seven able-bodied subjects (AB) participated in this study. The subjects were exposed to a hot (33 degrees C) or a moderate temperature (25 degrees C) environment for one hour and during the last 10 min of the exposure, the subjects performed arm cranking exercises at an exercise intensity of 40 W. The skin temperatures at the chest, the upper arm, the thigh and the calf, the tympanic membrane temperature (Tty), and the skin blood flow of the thigh (SBFT) were continuously monitored during the experiment. Although no systematical variation was found in the Tty at 25 degrees C, the Tty at 33 degrees C in paraplegics during exercise was significantly greater than that at rest (P < 0.01), which indicated a pronounced heat stress for paraplegics at 33 degrees C. SBFT of paraplegics with high lesions of the SCI remained unchanged during the experiment at 25 degrees C and 33 degrees C, while paraplegics with low lesions in this study showed consecutive increases in SBFT during exercise in both environmental conditions similar to AB. The increased core temperature in paraplegics with high lesions was considered to be due to a lack of sweat response and vasomotor activity in the paralyzed area. On the basis of the findings in this study, it can be suggested that high core temperature without any increment of SBFT may be characterized as body heat balance of paraplegics with high lesions during exercise in a hot environment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraplegia*
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Sweating