Aerobic power of competitive paraplegic road racers

S. P. Hooker, C. L. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine peak aerobic power and associated physiological responses in highly competitive spinal cord injured (SCI) paraplegic road racers. Seven (6 male and one female) active paraplegic (lesions T4-T12) road racers and 9 healthy untrained able-bodied males performed continuous graded arm crank ergometer tests to exhaustion for determinations of peak power output (PO), oxygen uptake (VO2), pulmonary ventilation (VE), heart rate (HR), and respiratory exchange ratio (RER). Compared to able-bodied subjects, male paraplegic road racers elicited significantly (p ≤.05) higher mean (± SD) peak levels of PO (141.6 ± 8.8 vs 111.4 ± 27.7 W), absolute VO2 (2.72 ±.52 vs 2.22 ±.381/min), and VO2 per unit of body weight (43.06 ± 7.4 vs 30.33 ± 4.3 ml/kg/min). Although peak HR (180.3 ± 9.5 vs 173.2 ± 8.5 bpm) and VE (92.8 ± 17.2 vs 74.6 ±20.31/min) tended to be higher for male paraplegic road racers than able-bodied subjects, the differences were not statistically significant. The female paraplegic road racer achieved the highest peak levels of VO2 (119 W) and VO2 (1.991/min; 38.0 ml/kg/min) reported to date for wheelchair-dependent women. These data suggest that intense physical training via wheelchair propulsion can markedly enhance upper body cardiovascular fitness in SCI paraplegics. However, the correlational analysis between 10 km time and peak VO2 was nonsignificant (p >.05) indicating that factors other than peak upper body aerobic power may influence wheelchair road racing performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-436
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • Aerobic fitness
  • Oxygen uptake
  • Paraplegia
  • Spinal cord injured
  • Upper body exercise
  • Wheelchair athlete

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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