STUDY DESIGN - Longitudinal.
OBJECTIVES - The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of lower extremity resistance training on quadriceps fatigability, femoral artery diameter, and femoral artery blood flow.
SETTING - Academic Institution.
METHODS - Five male chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) individuals (American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA): A complete; C5-T10; 36+/-5 years old) completed 18 weeks of home-based neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) resistance training. Subjects trained the quadriceps muscle group twice a week with four sets of 10 dynamic knee extensions against resistance while in a seated position. All measurements were made before training and after 8, 12, and 18 weeks of training. Ultrasound was used to measure femoral artery diameter and blood flow. Blood flow was measured before and after 5 and 10 min of distal cuff occlusion, and during a 4-min isometric electrical stimulation fatigue protocol.
RESULTS - Training resulted in significant increases in weight lifted and muscle mass, as well as a 60% reduction in muscle fatigue (P = 0.001). However, femoral arterial diameter did not increase. The range was 0.44+/-0.03 to 0.46+/-0.05 cm over the four time points (P = 0.70). Resting, reactive hyperemic, and exercise blood flow did not appear to change with training.
CONCLUSION - NMES resistance training improved muscle size and fatigue despite an absence of response in the supplying vasculature. These results suggest that the decreases in arterial caliber and blood flow seen with SCI are not tightly linked to muscle mass and fatigue resistance. In addition, muscle fatigue in SCI patients can be improved without increases in arterial diameter or blood flow capacity.