Physical Exercise for Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury: Systematic Review Based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health

J Sport Rehabil. 2019 Jul 1;28(5):505-516. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2017-0185. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Introduction: Considering the reduction of physical activity performed daily in people with spinal cord injury, it is necessary to analyze the interventions based on physical exercises in order to provide recommendations based on evidence. Objectives: To review and evaluate the literature on physical exercise interventions for individuals with SCI, based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, as well as physiological parameters for exercise prescription. Method: A systematic review of the literature produced from August 2016 to February 2017 within the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and MEDLINE databases. Results: Two independent examiners conducted a search in which 223 articles were initially found. A third evaluator verified possible divergences and generated a final list of 25 articles that strictly met the inclusion criteria, 5 of which investigated the effects of aerobic exercise, 2 of resistance training, 2 of balance training, 12 of gait training, and 4 evaluating the combined effect of 2 or more forms of training. Conclusion: Considering studies classified as of high and moderate quality of evidence, positive effects were observed in the domains of structures and functions, in aerobic, resistance training and combined exercises, and in some studies with gait training. In the domain of activities and participation, positive effects were observed in the studies with gait training, balance training, and combined interventions.

Keywords: aerobic; balance; gait; paraplegia; resistance; tetraplegia; training.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance
  • Quality of Life
  • Resistance Training
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*