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Impact of rehabilitation on volumetric muscle loss in subjects with traumatic spinal cord injury: A systematic review.

NeuroRehabilitation 2023 Februrary 17
BACKGROUND: Spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to spinal nerve fiber tract damage resulting in functional impairments. Volumetric muscle loss (VML), a skeletal muscle volume abnormal reduction, is represented by atrophy below the injury level. The strategies for VML management included personalized approaches, and no definite indications are available.

OBJECTIVE: To identify the rehabilitation effects of VML in subjects with SCI (humans and animals).

METHODS: PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were systematically searched to identify longitudinal observational studies with individuals affected by traumatic SCI as participants; rehabilitation treatment as intervention; no control, sham treatment, and electrical stimulation programs as control; total lean body and lower limb lean mass, cross-sectional area, functional gait recovery, muscle thickness, and ultrasound intensity, as outcome.

RESULTS: Twenty-four longitudinal observational studies were included, evaluating different rehabilitation approaches' effects on the VML reduction in subjects affected by SCI. The data showed that electrical stimulation and treadmill training are effective in reducing the VML in this population.

CONCLUSION: This systematic review underlines the need to treat subjects with traumatic SCI (humans and animals) with different rehabilitation approaches to prevent VML in the subacute and chronic phases. Further clinical observations are needed to overcome the bias and to define the intervention's timing and modalities.

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