Functional Training Benefits for Spinal Cord Injury Patients and Caregivers

In a recent study conducted at a community fitness center in Fort Smith, USA, a high intensity functional training (HIFT) program was implemented to assess its feasibility and effects on people with spinal cord injury (pSCI) and their care partners (CPs). Over a 25-week period, the single-group design study evaluated the impact of 49 HIFT sessions on participants’ physical and psychosocial health.

Participants included 14 pSCI individuals and 6 CPs, with average attendance at 73% of the sessions. Sessions ranged from 60 to 75 minutes and were adapted to participant abilities. Key findings revealed improvements in cardiovascular endurance, anaerobic power, muscular strength, and social support for exercise among both pSCI and CPs.

The study demonstrated that HIFT is a viable and potentially beneficial exercise option for improving the health and well-being of individuals with pSCI and their CPs. It suggests that HIFT programs like CrossFit could offer an accessible means to enhance the physical fitness and social support mechanisms for this population, given the wide availability of such programs.

The study faced certain limitations, including the predominance of white male participants, and lacked a control group which restricts the ability to generalize findings. Future research is recommended to explore the long-term sustainability of attendance, the inclusion of diverse participant groups, comparison of HIFT to other exercise forms, and the impact on cardiometabolic health outcomes.

Source: Nature.com

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