Feasibility study of high-intensity interval training to reduce cardiometabolic disease risks in individuals with acute spinal cord injury: Protocol

Jennifer L Maher, Catherine Whitmarsh, Paula Smith, Hazel Taylor, Aram Fard, James Bilzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Introduction Individuals ageing with spinal cord injury (SCI) experience an accelerated trajectory of diseases and disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, that resemble those experienced with ageing alone. Currently, an evidence-based approach toward managing this problem does not exist and therefore the purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of conducting a high-intensity exercise intervention in individuals with acute (<6 months postinjury) SCI to improve cardiometabolic health. Methods and analysis We will conduct a single-centre, two parallel-arm, randomised feasibility study of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervention in individuals with acute SCI. We will enrol 40 individuals (20 intervention, 20 control) with acute SCI attending inpatient rehabilitation at Salisbury District Hospital. Participants will be randomly allocated to the intervention group (HIIT) or control group for 18 weeks. Both groups will participate in standard care throughout the duration of the study. The HIIT group only will also perform supervised HIIT exercise on an arm cycle ergometer three times per week. Over the course of the intervention, most participants will be discharged from the hospital, and at this time, an arm cycle ergometer will be installed in their home and the intervention will transition into outpatient care. We will assess cardiorespiratory fitness, glycaemic control, lipid profile and body habitus as well as qualitative assessments of acceptability at weeks 0, 9 and 18 with the primary outcome being the feasibility of a full Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). Ethics and dissemination This study will inform a longer-term, definitive, multicentre RCT to establish the impact of this exercise intervention in maintaining the cardiometabolic health of patients during the acute phase following SCI. Results will be disseminated in different formats including peer-reviewed journal articles, conference presentations and internet media, to a wide audience including clinicians, researchers and individuals with SCI. Trial registration number ISRCTN57514022.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere068507
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by The National Institute of Health Research, grant number (NIHR 201591).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • Humans
  • Feasibility Studies
  • High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Exercise
  • Spinal Cord Injuries/complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases/prevention & control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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