Feasibility and safety of 4 weeks of blood flow-restricted exercise in an individual with tetraplegia and known autonomic dysreflexia: a case report

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  • Søren Krogh
  • Anette B Jønsson
  • Jørgen Vibjerg
  • ,
  • Kaare Severinsen
  • ,
  • Per Aagaard, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Helge Kasch

INTRODUCTION: Blood flow-restricted exercise (BFRE) appears to hold considerable potential in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation, due to its ability to induce beneficial functional changes and morphological alterations from low-intensity, low-load exercise. However, it remains unclear if this training approach is feasible and safe in individuals with autonomic dysreflexia (AD).

CASE PRESENTATION: A 23-year-old male with traumatic, cervical (C6), motor-complete (AIS: B) SCI and diagnosed AD completed eight sessions of BFRE for the upper extremities over 4 weeks. Blood pressure and heart rate recordings and perceptual pain responses were collected repeatedly during exercise. Blood samples were drawn pre- and post-training. Training was carried out in a neurorehabilitation hospital setting with appertaining medical staff readiness, and was supervised by a physiotherapist with expertise in AD in general as well as prior knowledge of the present patient's triggers and symptoms. Four incidences of AD (defined as systolic blood pressure increase >20 mmHg) were recorded across all training sessions, of which one was symptomatic. The patient's blood profile did not change considerably from pre- to post-training sessions. Self-reported average pain during training corresponded from "mild" to "moderate".

DISCUSSION: The patient was able to perform 4 weeks of BFRE, but encountered episodes of AD. Similarly, two AD episodes were registered during a single conventional, free-flow resistance training session. Evidence from clinically controlled safety studies is needed in order to establish if and how BFRE can be applied in a rehabilitation strategy in SCI individuals with neurological level of injury at or above T6 level.

TidsskriftSpinal Cord Series and Cases
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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