Original Article

Spinal Cord (2010) 48 138–143; doi:10.1038/sc.2009.88; published online 14 July 2009

Training unsupported sitting in people with chronic spinal cord injuries: a randomized controlled trial

C L Boswell-Ruys1, L A Harvey2, J J Barker2,3, M Ben3, J W Middleton2 and S R Lord1

  1. 1Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Rehabilitation Studies Unit and the University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Physiotherapy Department, Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Correspondence: C Boswell-Ruys, Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, University of South Wales, Barker Street, Randwick, New South Wales 2031, Australia. E-mail: c.boswell-ruys@powmri.edu.au

Received 15 December 2008; Revised 11 May 2009; Accepted 17 May 2009; Published online 14 July 2009.

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Abstract

Study design:

 

Randomized, assessor-blinded trial.

Objectives:

 

To evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-week task-specific training programme on the abilities of people with chronic spinal cord injuries to sit unsupported.

Setting:

 

NSW, Australia.

Methods:

 

Thirty adults with spinal cord injuries of at least 1-year duration were recruited. Participants in the training group (n=15) performed up to 1h of task-specific training three times a week for 6 weeks. Participants in the control group (n=15) did not receive any training or additional therapy. Primary outcome measures were the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), and tests of Upper Body Sway, Maximal Balance Range and donning and doffing a T-shirt (the T-shirt test).

Results:

 

The between-group mean difference (95% confidence interval) for the maximal balance range was 64mm (95% confidence interval 20 to 108mm; P=0.006). There were no significant between-group mean differences for the COPM and the Upper Body Sway and T-shirt tests.

Conclusions:

 

This trial shows initial support for intensive task-specific training for improving the abilities of people with chronic spinal cord injuries to sit unsupported, although the real-world implications of the observed treatment effects are yet to be determined.

Keywords:

spinal cord injury; sitting, task-specific training, balance, rehabilitation