Objective: To evaluate the effect of training with ergometers on subjects with spinal cord injury (SCI) in the postacute phase.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: A spinal unit at a physical medicine and rehabilitation institute.
Participants: Twenty-one subjects with SCI in the postacute phase as a consecutive sample were chosen on a strict first-come, first-chosen basis. All patients completed the study.
Interventions: A 6-week (5d/wk, 90 min/d) program consisting of exercises with the ergometers formulated (as intensity and duration) for each patient on the basis of the results obtained in specific cardiovascular tests.
Main outcome measures: Parameters of workload levels, as well as hematologic and hormonal parameters, recorded during the first 6 weeks of training.
Results: The workload performed during the training showed an initial increase, but it reached a plateau in week 4. No statistically meaningful variations in the workload emerged between the fourth and the sixth weeks of monitoring. There were no hematologic or hormonal signs of overtraining.
Conclusions: Strengthening and aerobic rehabilitation programs for patients with subacute SCI should be limited to 4 weeks, followed by an independent maintenance exercise program. The strengthening program is safe for these patients.