Effectiveness of an upper extremity exercise device integrated with computer gaming for aerobic training in adolescents with spinal cord dysfunction

J Spinal Cord Med. 2006;29(4):363-70. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2006.11753884.


Background/objective: To determine whether a new upper extremity exercise device integrated with a video game (GameCycle) requires sufficient metabolic demand and effort to induce an aerobic training effect and to explore the feasibility of using this system as an exercise modality in an exercise intervention.

Design: Pre-post intervention.

Setting: University-based research facility. SUBJECT POPULATION: A referred sample of 8 adolescent subjects with spina bifida (4 girls, 15.5 +/- 0.6 years; 4 boys, 17.5 +/- 0.9 years) was recruited to participate in the project. All subjects had some level of mobility impairment that did not allow them to participate in mainstream sports available to their nondisabled peers. Five subjects used a wheelchair full time, one used a wheelchair occasionally, but walked with forearm crutches, and 2 were fully ambulatory, but had impaired gait.

Main outcome measures: Peak oxygen uptake, maximum work output, aerobic endurance, peak heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and user satisfaction.

Results: Six of the 8 subjects were able to reach a Vo2 of at least 50% of their Vo2 reserve while using the GameCycle. Seven of the 8 subjects reached a heart rate of at least 50% of their heart rate reserve. One subject did not reach either 50% of Vo2 reserve or 50% of heart rate reserve. Seven of the 8 subjects increased their maximum work capability after training with the GameCycle at least 3 times per week for 16 weeks.

Conclusions: The data suggest that the GameCycle seems to be adequate as an exercise device to improve oxygen uptake and maximum work capability in adolescents with lower extremity disability caused by spinal cord dysfunction. The subjects in this study reported that the video game component was enjoyable and provided a motivation to exercise.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arm
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Spinal Dysraphism / metabolism*
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Video Games*