Adapted Exercise Equipment
Many of the exercise machines designed for use by people with mobility impairments require the user to be in a seated position and replicate the actions used in wheelchair wheeling. Use of these machines may increase the risk of chronic arm issues that are common with wheelchair users. Further, the cardio-vascular benefits of using these devices are limited as the user is generally sitting and only engaging the arms.
To address these limitations, we have developed AAPLE-Walk, a new device that allows users with mobility impairment to exercise in a way that does not mimic the actions of wheelchair wheeling, allows weight bearing, and at the same time challenges the heart better than simple arm-only movements.
Typical exercise options for people with mobility impairments are usually limited to seated, upper body exercise (e.g. wheeling, hand-cycling). To address this gap, we are developing the AAPLEwalkTM, a novel sit-to-stand exercise machine for people with mobility impairments. Our prototype safely raises a user from sitting to a fully supported, upright position on an elliptical-type exercise machine. Exercise consists of rhythmic, arm-driven, walking-like leg patterns. We expect that this will challenge the heart better than simple arm-only movements. It may also provide benefits similar to those of other upright walking therapies, such as improvements in the secondary complications associated with wheelchair use, and neurological recovery. We have successfully designed and fabricated a proof-of-principle prototype and are currently working on increasing the usability and functionality of our design through our user-centred design process.
AAPLE (Active Arm Passive Leg Exercise) Study
Traditionally, exercise for individuals with SCI is limited to the upper body, functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling of the lower body, or more recently body-weight supported treadmill training. Although these exercise modalities have been shown to provide cardiorespiratory benefits, they may provide an insufficient exercise stress to prevent cardiovascular decline post-SCI. Together with researchers at ICORD, we are investigating the combination of active-arm passive-leg exercise (AAPLE). Specifically, we want to determine if AAPLE provides an additive cardiorespiratory stimulus to upper or lower extremity exercise alone, and determine if an AAPLE training intervention improves cardio-metabolic function in SCI. In a case study involving a 6 week AAPLE interval training intervention, AAPLE caused a 25% increase in peak oxygen uptake, a 10% increase in resting stroke volume, and a four-fold increase in brachial artery blood flow.
Work supported by:
Chris West (ICORD, UBC Kinesiology), Tania Lam (ICORD), Katharine Currie (ICORD), Cameron Gee (ICORD); Andrei V. Krassioukov (ICORD)