Muscle after spinal cord injury

Bo Biering-Sørensen, Ida Bruun Kristensen, Michael Kjaer, Fin Biering-Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The morphological and contractile changes of muscles below the level of the lesion after spinal cord injury (SCI) are dramatic. In humans with SCI, a fiber-type transformation away from type I begins 4-7 months post-SCI and reaches a new steady state with predominantly fast glycolytic IIX fibers years after the injury. There is a progressive drop in the proportion of slow myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform fibers and a rise in the proportion of fibers that coexpress both the fast and slow MHC isoforms. The oxidative enzymatic activity starts to decline after the first few months post-SCI. Muscles from individuals with chronic SCI show less resistance to fatigue, and the speed-related contractile properties change, becoming faster. These findings are also present in animals. Future studies should longitudinally examine changes in muscles from early SCI until steady state is reached in order to determine optimal training protocols for maintaining skeletal muscle after paralysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)499-519
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1. Oct 2009


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