Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-10-1959


The purpose of this study was to determine the energy cost of ambulation in traumatic paraplegics, and to lay the groundwork for continued study into the metabolism of these patients under various conditions. Objects of consideration were the level of lesion and the rate and type of gait. Samples of air were collected with the Max Planck respirometer, and gas analysis was done by the Scholander method. The patient walked for six minutes, and recovery samples were taken to determine oxygen debt. Calculations were made on the basis of calories consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute, and also calories per meter walked per kilogram of body weight. Comparison of these patients with normal subjects showed heavy energy expenditure on the part of all paraplegics, with marked increase as the level of lesion ascends. The question is raised as to the need of ambulation in all cases, and the substitution of one hour of standing daily is suggested as ample for physiologic benefit in those patients in whom ambulation is done at excessive cost. Consideration of all aspects of paraplegia is encouraged, with ambulation as a less important goal than other goals, and caution advised in verging too much physical activity on someone who already is suffering from severe stress reaction, and with limited respiratory ability. This information is also useful in showing certain patients that ambulation is an attainable and useful goal.