A multimodality intervention to improve musculoskeletal health, function, metabolism, and well-being in spinal cord injury: study protocol for the FIT-SCI randomized controlled trial

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 May 25;23(1):493. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05441-3.


BACKGROUND: A spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating, life-changing event that has profoundly deleterious effects on an individual’s health and well-being. Dysregulation of neuromuscular, cardiometabolic, and endocrine organ systems following an SCI contribute to excess morbidity, mortality and a poor quality of life. As no effective treatments currently exist for SCI, the development of novel strategies to improve the functional and health status of individuals living with SCI are much needed. To address this knowledge gap, the current study will determine whether a Home-Based Multimodality Functional Recovery and Metabolic Health Enhancement Program that consists of functional electrical stimulation of the lower extremity during leg cycling (FES-LC) plus arm ergometry (AE) administered using behavioral motivational strategies, and testosterone therapy, is more efficacious than FES-LC plus AE and placebo in improving aerobic capacity, musculoskeletal health, function, metabolism, and wellbeing in SCI.

METHODS: This single-site, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial will enroll 88 community-dwelling men and women, 19 to 70 years of age, with cervical and thoracic level of SCI, ASIA Impairment Scale grade: A, B, C, or D, 6 months or later after an SCI. Participants randomized to the multimodality intervention will undergo 16 weeks of home-based FES-LC and AE training plus testosterone undecanoate. Testosterone undecanoate injections will be administered by study staff in clinic or by a visiting nurse in the participant’s home. The control group will receive 16 weeks of home-based FES-LC and AE exercise plus placebo injections. The primary outcome of this trial is peak aerobic capacity, measured during an incremental exercise testing protocol. Secondary outcomes include whole body and regional lean and adipose tissue mass; muscle strength and power; insulin sensitivity, lipids, and inflammatory markers; SCI functional index and wellbeing (mood, anxiety, pain, life satisfaction and depressive symptoms); and safety.

DISCUSSION: We anticipate that a multimodality intervention that simultaneously addresses multiple physiological impairments in SCI will result in increased aerobic capacity and greater improvements in other musculoskeletal, metabolic, functional and patient-reported outcomes compared to the control intervention. The findings of this study will have important implications for improving the care of people living with an SCI.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov : ( NCT03576001 ). Prospectively registered: July 3, 2018.

PMID:35614404 | PMC:PMC9130453 | DOI:10.1186/s12891-022-05441-3


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