Effect of Acute Physical Interventions on Pathophysiology and Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Physical rehabilitation is essential for enhancing recovery in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI); however, aside from early surgical intervention and hemodynamic management, there are no proven interventions for promoting recovery in the acute phase. In general, early rehabilitation is considered beneficial, but optimal parameters and potential contraindications for implementing rehabilitation at very early time points are unclear. Moreover, clinical trials to date are limited to studies initiating rehabilitation 2 weeks after injury and later. To address these gaps, this article reviews the preclinical literature on physical interventions initiated within the first 8 days postinjury. Effects of early rehabilitation on molecular and structural nervous system changes, behavioral function, and body systems are considered. Most studies utilized treadmill or cycle training as the primary intervention. Treadmill training initiated within the first 3 days and terminated by 1 week after injury worsened autonomic function, inflammation, and locomotor outcomes, while swim training during this period increased microvascular dysfunction. In contrast, lower-intensity rehabilitation such as reach training, ladder training, or voluntary wheel or ball training showed benefits when implemented during the first 3 days. Rehabilitation initiated at 4 days postinjury was also associated with enhanced motor recovery. Cycling appears to have the greatest risk-benefit ratio; however, the effects of cycle training in the first 3 days were not investigated. Overall, research suggests that lower intensity or voluntary rehabilitation during the hyperacute phase is more appropriate until at least 4 days postinjury, at which point higher-intensity activity becomes safer and more beneficial for recovery.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lewis, NE; Tabarestani, TQ; Cellini, BR; Zhang, N; Marrotte, EJ; Wang, H; Laskowitz, DT; Abd-El-Barr, MM; Faw, TD

Published Date

  • September 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 671 - 686

PubMed ID

  • 36203293

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9537860

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2586-6583

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.14245/ns.2244476.238


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Korea (South)