15 – Optimising power output during electrically stimulated cycling in people with a spinal cord injury

Optimising power output during electrically stimulated cycling in people with a spinal cord injury

Kings College London – School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, Award: £52,025, Date of Award: 30 Aug 06

Electrically stimulated cycling (ESC) enables people with a spinal cord injury to participate in recreational and competitive exercise and gain the associated health-related and psychological benefits.

We have been studying the effects of ESC training over a one year period and the results have revealed a number of issues that need to be addressed if the benefits of ESC are to be optimised. While the subjects became much stronger, the power output achieved was less than expected from the muscle strength and sufficient only to allow cycling indoors on a smooth, flat surface. Although muscle fatigability improved, the subjects showed a marked loss of power output after only a few minutes of cycling. There are a number of possible causes for these findings and we propose a series of linked experiments to explore ways in which power output during ESC can be improved and maintained in order to optimise cycling ability