Physical activity is related to lower levels of pain, fatigue and depression in individuals with spinal-cord injury: a correlational study

Spinal Cord. 2009 Apr;47(4):301-6. doi: 10.1038/sc.2008.120. Epub 2008 Oct 21.


Study design: This was a prospective cross-sectional study for people with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Objectives: To (1) evaluate the intensity level and nature of physical activity in community-dwelling individuals living with SCI, and (2) explore the relation between descriptive individual variables (for example, lesion level), secondary complications and participation in physical activity.

Setting: Urban community setting.

Methods: A total of 49 subjects with SCI who used a manual wheelchair for primary mode of mobility (mean years since injury, 11.8; mean age, 43.7 years; 67% paraplegia) completed the physical activity recall assessment for people with SCI (PARA-SCI).

Results: Approximately 50% of reported physical activity among individuals with SCI is due to activities of daily living. The amount of physical activity was not related to lesion level, age, body mass index or waistline size. Greater heavy-intensity activity was related to lower levels of pain and fatigue and higher levels of self-efficacy, whereas higher amounts of mild-intensity activity and total activity were related to less depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: Activities of daily living are a large component for physical activity among individuals with SCI. It appears that greater physical activity is associated with less secondary complications (pain, fatigue and depression) in individuals with SCI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Statistics as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires