Content » Vol 36, Issue 5

Maximizing muscle force via low-cadence functional electrical stimulation cycling

Ché Fornusek A1 and Glen M. Davis A1
A1 Rehabilitation Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Sydney Sydney Australia

DOI: 10.1080/16501970410029843


Objective: This study investigated the effect of pedal cadence upon torque production, power output and muscle fatigue rates during functional electrical stimulation evoked cycling in spinal cord injured individuals. Subjects: All subjects had complete thoracic spinal cord injuries T4-T9 (ASIA A) and had been functional electrical stimulation training regularly for at least 6 months. Methods: One trial (n = 8) examined a low vs high pedal rate (20 and 50 rev•min -1 ) upon isolated muscle fatigue over 5 minutes. A second trial (n = 9) investigated the effect of cadence (15 vs 50 rev•min -1 ) upon performance during 35-minutes of functional electrical stimulation evoked cycling. Results: Peak torque produced by left quadriceps decayed significantly faster at the higher pedal cadence, indicating a higher rate of muscle fatigue. Functional electrical stimulation cycling over 35 minutes also revealed that peak and average torques were significantly greater at the lower cadence. From 15 minutes onwards, power output was significantly higher at 50 rev•min -1 FES-cycling, compared with 15 rev•min -1 . Conclusion: The higher muscle forces observed during low cadence functional electrical stimulation cycling should offer improvements over traditional pedalling velocities for training leg strength in individuals with spinal cord injury.

Lay Abstract


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