Physical Rehabilitation and Nursing

The immediate effect of wheelchair Tai Chi on autonomic nervous modulation in subjects with chronic spinal cord injury: A pilot study 【International SportMed Journal, Vol.13 No.3, September 2012, pp. 96-108 】


Objective: Alteration of autonomic nervous activities has been reported in subjects with spinal cord injury (SCI). It is not clear whether wheelchair Tai Chi (WTC) can enhance the balance of autonomic nervous activities in chronic SCI. Participants: Ten chronic, complete or incomplete SCI patients (i.e. five C3-C6 injured tetraplegics and five T4-T12 injured paraplegics) were recruited. Intervention: The subjects took eight weeks to learn the WTC exercise (60 minutes per session, 3 sessions per week). Then the heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded by means of a handheld HRV device (DailyCare BioMedical, Inc. Taiwan) in trained subjects before and after performing WTC in a single session (about 40 minutes). Results: There was no significant decrease in the time domain of HRV following WTC exercise. However, the frequency domain indicated that the normalized high frequency (HFnu) increased significantly from 27.5 to 39.0 (p = 0.022), and the normalized low frequency (LFnu), HF peak and LF/HF decreased significantly in SCI. Conclusion: The short-term WTC with slow breathing might enhance vagal activity and decrease sympathetic activity with balanced sympathovagal tone in chronic subjects following complete or incomplete SCI.