Metabolic demand and muscle activation during different forms of bodyweight supported locomotion in men with incomplete SCI

Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:632765. doi: 10.1155/2014/632765. Epub 2014 May 21.


Body weight supported locomotor training uses neuroplasticity principles to improve recovery following a spinal cord injury (SCI). Steady state locomotion using the same body weight support (BWS) percent was compared in 7 males (42.6 ± 4.29 years) with incomplete SCI and matched (gender, age) noninjured controls (42.7 ± 5.4 years) using the Lokomat, Manual Treadmill, and ZeroG. The VO2000, Polar Heart Rate (HR) Monitor, and lower limb electromyography (EMG) electrodes were worn during the 2-minute sessions. Oxygen uptake (VO2) and HR were expressed as percentage of peak values obtained using progressive arm ergometry; VO2 was also expressed relative to resting metabolic equivalents (METS). Filtered EMG signals from tibialis anterior (TA), rectus femoris (RF), biceps femoris (BF), and medial gastrocnemius (MG) were normalized to ZeroG stepping. The Lokomat required 30% of VO2 peak (2METS) compared to ~54% (3METS) for Manual Treadmill and ZeroG sessions. HR was 67% of peak during Lokomat sessions compared to ~83% for Manual Treadmill and ZeroG. Muscle activation was higher in treadmill conditions compared to the ZeroG primarily due to increased BF activity. At the same level of BWS, locomotion using the Manual Treadmill or the ZeroG is more aerobically demanding than the Lokomat. Treadmill modalities encourage greater hip extensor activation compared to overground locomotion.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Demography
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Walking
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen