Site-Specific Bone Mineral Density Is Unaltered Despite Differences in Fat-Free Soft Tissue Mass Between Affected and Nonaffected Sides in Hemiplegic Paralympic Athletes with Cerebral Palsy: Preliminary Findings

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Oct;95(10):771-8. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000532.


Objective: This study investigated bone mineral density (BMD, g/cm), fat mass (FM, kg), and fat-free soft tissue mass (FFSTM, kg) in Paralympic athletes with cerebral palsy (CP) using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

Methods: Bone mineral density, BMD Z scores (standard deviations), FM, and FFSTM were measured for the whole body and at the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip sites on both nonaffected and affected sides of 6 athletes with hemiplegic CP.

Results: There were no differences between nonaffected and affected sides with respect to site-specific BMD and BMD Z scores and FM. Fat-free soft tissue mass was significantly lower on the affected side in both upper and lower limbs (15% lower; P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The present study is the first to describe similar BMD between sides, symmetry in FM, and asymmetry in FFSTM in Paralympic athletes with CP. These findings have important consequences for rehabilitation, as they indicate the potential for positive physiological adaptation as a result of exercise training over long periods of time.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Athletes*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Femur Neck / diagnostic imaging
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Young Adult