Creatine increases exercise capacity in patients with cervical spinal cord injury

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Results of a randomized crossover trial indicate that oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves upper extremity exercise capacity in patients with cervical-level spinal cord injury.

Dr. Patrick L. Jacobs and colleagues, from the University of Miami School of Medicine, randomly assigned 16 men with complete C5-C7 spinal cord injury to 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate powder or placebo (maltodextrin) for 7 days, followed by a 21-day washout period, before the treatment was reversed.

The men were evaluated using incremental peak arm ergometry tests. The tests were given immediately before and after each phase of treatment and consisted of a 2-minute work stage followed by a 1-minute recovery period, according to the report in the January issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

While patients were receiving creatine monohydrate supplementation there was an 18.6% gain in peak oxygen uptake compared with the period of placebo supplementation. There were also significant gains in tidal volume and carbon dioxide production, the research team found. Peak ventilatory frequency was significantly lower during creatine monohydrate supplementation (p < 0.001), they add.

Dr. Jacobs and colleagues conclude that creatine supplementation "may aid in increasing power and stamina when used in conjunction with strength training, which would allow persons with spinal cord injury to be more independent and active and lead to an improvement in overall health and quality of life."

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