Functional electric stimulation-assisted rowing: Increasing cardiovascular fitness through functional electric stimulation rowing training in persons with spinal cord injury

Garry D. Wheeler, Brian Andrews, Robert Lederer, Rhahman Davoodi, Karen Natho, Christina Weiss, Justin Jeon, Yagesh Bhambhani, Robert D. Steadward

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87 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess changes in peak functional aerobic power after a 36-session, progressive functional electric stimulation (FES) rowing hybrid training program for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to examine the safety and acceptability of the ROWSTIM II device as well as the integrity of technical modifications to it. Design: Repeated-measures training study, quasi-experimental design, within-person data comparison. Setting: A university-based recreational physical activity facility for persons with physical disabilities. Participants: Six persons with level C7-T12 SCI (American Spinal Injury Association classes A-C). Intervention: Progressive rowing training program, 30 minutes per session, 3 times a week for 12 weeks at 70% to 75% of pretest peak functional aerobic power during FES rowing on an open loop control, FES-assisted rowing machine. Main Outcome Measures: Total rowing distance, peak functional oxygen consumption, and peak oxygen pulse. Results: Subjects completed between 22 to 36 sessions. After 3 months of training, rowing distance increased by 25% (P<.02), peak oxygen consumption by 11.2% (P<.001), and peak oxygen pulse by 11.4% (P<.01). Heart rate response to hybrid training did not change at the end of training, although peak heart rate with FES lower-extremity exercise increased significantly from pre- to posttraining (P<.01). Conclusions: Pre- and posttraining peak aerobic power values for ROWSTIM II training were comparable to previously reported values for hybrid cycle and upper-extremity exercise. We conclude that FES-assisted rowing is an effective, safe, and well-tolerated training system for persons with SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1099
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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