Timing of exercise training after spinal cord injury (as well as traumatic brain injury) has been thought to be critical to recovery. However, researchers have not reached consensus-some studies show that early intervention is best, while others suggest that a delayed intervention is more effective.
A recent animal study found that an early intervention (one day after spinal cord injury) of a moderate exercise program resulted in significantly more recovery that a delayed intervention (eight days after injury). Damage across spinal areas was also significantly less in the early intervention than in the delayed intervention.
This study supports early exercise training, and suggests that there may be a critical period in which the spinal cord is more plastic and therefore more receptive to repair.
Brown Ak, Woller SA, Moreno G, et al. Exercise therapy and recovery after SCI: Evidence that shows early intervention improves recovery of function. Spinal Cord. (March 2011).