Influence of long-term wheelchair rugby training on the functional abilities in persons with tetraplegia over a two-year post-spinal cord injury
Lech Furmaniuk, Grażyna Cywińska-Wasilewska, Dominik Kaczmarek
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the influence of long-term wheelchair rugby training on the functional abilities of persons with tetraplegia over a 2-year period post-spinal cord injury.
Design: A prospective non-randomized controlled trial.
Participants: Forty people with incomplete tetraplegia were examined. Participants were divided into 2 groups: a wheelchair rugby training group (n = 20) and a control group (n = 20).
Methods: The Wheelchair Skills Test was used to assess functional changes in patients. In order to assess the strength of the 10 key muscles in the upper limb, the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score was used. All participants were assessed at the beginning of the study (at the start of wheelchair rugby training) and reassessed after 2 years. Between pre- and post-measurements patients from the wheelchair rugby group attended wheelchair rugby training once a week.
Results: The baseline values of the Wheelchair Skills Test in the wheelchair rugby group was 71.3, and this increased significantly by 24%. In the control group, the mean Wheelchair Skills Test value was 63.2, and this improved by 4%. A significant correlation between Wheelchair Skills Test score and ASIA motor score was found in both groups.
Conclusion: Participation in regular wheelchair rugby training may preserve and augment functional abilities in individuals with incomplete tetraplegia.