The Steadward Centre Visits London!
January 15 - 21, 2006 proved to be an eventful
week for the Steadward Centre as a few of our staff had the opportunity
to visit London (England) for a whirlwind trip. The trip was
planned with the goal of providing the Steadward Centre team more
knowledge with regards to FES rowing and it's beneficial applications.
The trip proved to be a roaring success. Look for the Steadward
Centre's FES rowing program to drastically improve in the near future!
Below are some pictures/videos from the trip:
Sarah Orr is the first woman in the world
to participate in FES rowing! Click the image to see
her in action!
Kevin Brooks being set up for FES
rowing. Click the image to see him in action!
Meet the fastest FES rower in the
world! Click the image to see him in action!
What is FES Rowing?
A lesion in the spinal nerves leads often to
extensive paralysis in the lower body and in some cases also the upper
body. Although there is basically nothing wrong with the muscles, long
term disuse due to the inability to activate the muscles, leads to a
series of de-conditioning conditions. These form a major threat to the
health of persons with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), one can think of
impaired blood circulation in the lower body, decreased bone mineral
density in the legs, reduced tissue vitality and seriously elevated risk
factors for obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
The paralysed muscles of most persons with a
Spinal Cord Injury can be activated by a special stimulator that sends
electrical pulses to the muscle via special electrodes placed on the
skin over the targeted muscle. This technique is called Functional
Electrical Stimulation aka FES.
A project lead by researchers from Brunel
University in West-London and The Steadward Centre in Edmonton (Canada),
have integrated FES with a normal Concept 2 rowing ergometer. Besides
the stimulator, the seat has been adapted to provide sufficient postural
support for rowers with impaired balance (as is the case in most persons
with Spinal Cord Injury). The movement of the legs is triggered by
pressing or releasing a switch on the handle bar that controls the
stimulator. Pressing the switch leads to contraction of the quadriceps
in the drive phase and releasing the switch activates the hamstrings
during the recovery phase. Since the timing of this stimulation is
controlled by the rower himself, he can synchronize the action of the
legs with the movement of his upper body.
This enables paraplegic rowers to perform a full
rowing motion, just like any able-bodied rower. Potentially this has
many health benefits for persons with Spinal Cord Injury since FES-rowing
is the only exercise currently available for persons with Spinal Cord
Injury whereby their whole body is involved. This is important as only
then, high intensities can be reached and these are essential in a
healthy life style.
Besides these health benefits, FES-rowing also
opens up the opportunity for full inclusion of athletes with Spinal Cord
Injury into mainstream competitions. FES enables rowers with Spinal Cord
Injury to compete on an equal basis with able-bodied rowers