As the epidemics of obesity and inactivity grow to encompass almost two-thirds of adults, one high-risk population has received little attention; people with disabilities–specifically, those with some form of spinal cord injuries.

Services for this high-risk group have been limited despite the significant incidence of cardiovascular health issues.

Based on the success of recent research conducted by Andrew Taylor, PhD, at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, combining functional electrical stimulation (FES) and the sport of rowing, Spaulding established the Exercise for Persons with Disabilities or ExPD program at its main facility and it has partnered with Community Rowing Inc (CRI) to add another location at CRI.

"The goal of the program is to provide effective methods of exercise to increase overall health and wellness to an underserved and at-risk population, the community with disabilities," said Taylor, director, Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, in a statement. "The installation of these machines at CRI will enable the program to expand its ability to reach this population in the Boston area in an engaging and active environment,"

The ExPD program partnered with CRI to expand access for participants. Recently Spaulding, CRI, and the ExPD program celebrated the installation of two more FES rowing machines at the CRI Boathouse in Brighton, Mass.

The ExPD program has 40 participants since its initial launch more than a year ago. Many participants report increased cardiovascular health, improved muscle definition in their legs, and improved quality of life.

FES technology allows paralyzed muscles to contribute to whole body exercise. In this way both the paralyzed legs and innervated arms are under voluntary control and higher exercise intensities can be reached and sustained. Some FES-rowers have achieved unprecedented work rates comparable to those of able-bodied rowers, according to Spaulding.

Participants in the ExPD program must be at least 18 years old and have had a spinal cord injury. Participation in the program involves a full assessment and a nominal equipment rental and exercise fee. Locations for the program are at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital main campus on Nashua Street and the CRI Boathouse. For more information contact Glen Picard at (617) 573-2786, expd@partners.org, or visit [removed]spauldingrehab.org/expd[/removed].

[Source: [removed]Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital[/removed]]