Health, Wellness and Quality of Life

Investigators in the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program at Mayo Clinic study strategies to improve health, wellness and quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, including a wellness program for athletes in adapted sports and an online exercise platform.

Performance and nutrition for athletes with spinal cord injuries

The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program's study of the effectiveness of a performance and nutrition program for athletes in adapted sports is aimed at helping participants exercise with enough intensity to gain health benefit. In the study, sled hockey players who have spinal cord injuries undergo a 12-week program of intensive dry-land training that includes soft tissue mobility, strength, agility and power training, cardiopulmonary conditioning, and nutritional counseling.

Health-related quality of life, exercise self-efficacy, dietary intake, body composition and nutritional health are measured before and after the training program. Changes are compared to sled hockey athletes with nonspinal cord injury disabilities and to an able-bodied group made up of the sled hockey players' friends and family.

The ultimate goal of the study is to create a wellness program that improves the health of individuals with spinal cord injury and can be sustained long term.

Virtual health and wellness

The Spinal Cord Injury Program's virtual health and wellness study offers a peer-instructed and online exercise platform to eliminate some of the barriers that exist for people with spinal cord injury to begin and maintain an exercise routine. The study's virtual online exercise classes allow multiple people to exercise together, creating a peer support environment.

This study tests the feasibility of the concept of an online exercise platform, while engaging people with spinal cord injuries in the design and implementation of the program.