Following locomotor training (LT), the presence of arm swing increased in people with motor incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI), according to the authors of a study published October 12 online ahead of print in Spinal Cord.

Daily neuromuscular experiences provided to the arms may produce training effects, thereby altering arm swing expression, said the authors, who include Kristin V. Day, PT, MPT, PhD, NCS, and Andrea Behrman, PT, PhD, FAPTA.

This was an observational, cross-sectional study from a convenience sample with pretest/posttest data from a sample subset.

Arm movement was assessed during treadmill stepping, pre-LT, in 30 individuals with motor incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI, American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade C/D, as defined by the International Standards for Neurological Classifications of SCI, with neurological level of impairment at or below C4). Partial body weight support and manual-trainer assistance were provided, as needed, to achieve stepping and allow arm swing. Arm swing presence was compared on the basis of cervical versus thoracic neurological levels of impairment and device type. Leg and arm strength and walking independence were compared between individuals with and without arm swing. Arm swing was reevaluated post-LT in the 21 out of 30 individuals who underwent LT.

Of 30 individuals with iSCI, 12 demonstrated arm swing during treadmill stepping, pre-LT. Arm movement was associated with device type, lower extremity motor scores and walking independence. Among the 21 individuals who received LT, only 5 demonstrated arm swing pre-LT. Of the 16 individuals lacking arm swing pre-LT, 8 integrated arm swing post-LT.

[Source: PT in Motion, APTA]