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High doses of 'load' slows loss of bone in spinal cord injury
Date:2/16/2012

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Testing doses of load

The clinical trial developed by Shields and his team is based on biomechanical modeling and information from bone biology studies that show that bone cells, called osteoblasts, produce new bone only when the load is high enough.

The study compared the effect of "high dose" loads of 150 percent of body weight (induced by electrically stimulating the quadriceps muscle in one leg while the patient was supported in a standing position) with "low dose" load of 40 percent body weight (assisted standing with no electrical stimulation) and "no dose" loads of 0 percent body weight (sitting). Participants were asked to perform their training five times per week for three years and had their bone mineral density and muscle strength tested several times over the study period.

"When we applied a load of 1.5 times their body weight using electrical stimulation of the quadriceps muscle we saw a significant impact on the bone density as well as the expected growth of the skeletal muscle," says Shields.

Specifically, the study found that after three years, average bone density in the femur was almost 40 percent lower in patients who received low dose or no dose load compared to patients who received high dose. The study also showed that high dose load slows the deterioration of the trabecular bone -- the type of bone found at the joint ends of long bones where fractures most often occur.

"Keeping 40 percent of the bone material in the bone should translate into improved overall health along several dimensions, including reducing the risk of fracture, as well as reducing other common complications stemming from SCI, like kidney stones and diabetes," says Shields.

A unique feature of the study was that patients in the high dose group only received muscle stimulation on one leg. This meant that the patients' non-treated leg provided a "within subject" control that clearly contrasted the effect o
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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert  

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