Objective: To determine if the bone mineral density loss seen after spinal cord injury (SCI) is reversed by a walking program using the Parastep 1 system.
Design: Before-after trial.
Setting: Human SCI applied research laboratory.
Participants: Thirteen men and 3 women with thoracic motor- and sensory-complete SCI, mean age 28.8yrs, mean duration postinjury 3.8yrs.
Intervention: Thirty-two functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) ambulation training sessions using a commercially available system (Parastep 1). This system consists of a microprocessor-controlled stimulator and a modified walking frame with finger-operated switches that permit the user to control the stimulation parameters and activate the stepping.
Outcome measure: Bone mineral density at the femoral head, neck, and Ward's triangle measured using a Lunar DP3 dual-photon densitometer.
Results: No significant change in bone mineral density was found using repeated measures analyses of variance.
Conclusions: Axial loading combined with muscle stimulation and resistive exercise does not result in significant changes in bone mineral density in persons with complete paraplegia.