Objective: To evaluate the cardiopulmonary endurance of subjects with spinal cord injury by measuring the maximal oxygen consumption with varying degrees of spinal cord injury level, age, and regular exercise. Methods: We instructed the subjects to perform exercises using arm ergometer on healthy adults at 20 years of age or older with spinal cord injury, and their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) was measured with a metabolic measurement system. The exercise proceeded stepwise according to the exercise protocol and was stopped when the subject was exhausted or when VO2 reached an equilibrium. Results: Among the 40 subjects, there were 10 subjects with cervical cord injury, 27 with thoracic cord injury, and 3 with lumbar cord injury. Twenty-five subjects who were exercised regularly showed statistically higher results of VO2max than those who did not exercise regularly. Subjects with cervical injury showed statistically lower VO2max than the subjects with thoracic or lumbar injury out of the 40 subjects with neurologic injury. In addition, higher age showed a statistically lower VO2max. Lastly, the regularly exercising paraplegic group showed higher VO2max than the non-exercising paraplegic group. Conclusion: There are differences in VO2max of subjects with spinal cord injury according to the degree of neurologic injury, age, and whether the subject participates in regular exercise. We found that regular exercise increased the VO2max in individuals with spinal cord injury.
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