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Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Age-associated changes in individuals with spinal cord injury

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author N. Morgulec - Jozef Pilsudski Academy of Physical Education, Poland
  • A. Kosmol - Jozef Pilsudski Academy of Physical Education, Poland

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa076

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Morgulec et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



The majority of studies have focused on ageing in able bodied population. Ageing itself is a very complex issue related to physical health, psychological well being, social satisfaction and spirituality. The disability reveals additional problems and make process of normal aging more complicated. Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in impairment or loss of motor and/or sensory function in the trunk and/or extremities due to damage to neural elements of spinal cord. Depending on the neurological level and completeness of damage individuals with chronic SCI often experience conditions normally associated with ageing, including: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, pain of musculoskeletal and neuropathic origins, gastrointestinal changes and diabetes. Recently some investigations and reports have tried to analyze age-associated changes in individuals with SCI. It was well established that younger individuals with SCI onset during or prior to adolescence may enjoy a maintenance phase of 10 - 20 years prior to experiencing functional decline, while individuals above 50 years at the onset of their SCI may have 5 - 7 years of relatively stable functioning status prior to experiencing a decline. Some authors define changes appear earlier in individuals with SCI than in able bodied persons as premature ageing. Survival after SCI (similar to that of the general population) as well as constant changes in medical practices cause increased number of long-term SCI survivors. Some studies have indicated that the long-term consequences of living with SCI may include an acceleration of the ageing process, decline in function and high physical dependency upon others. Recent evidence have shown benefits that individuals with SCI derive from physical activity. It supports belief that exercise and sports participation can enhance health, reduce cardiovascular risks and improve successful aging of individuals with SCI. Thus it is very important to determine age associated changes in individuals with SCI in order to ensure the successful aging. The purposes of this study were (1) to review literature on ageing in individuals with SCI and (2) to summarize actual knowledge regarding benefits of physical activity in this population. The findings of studies and observations confirmed the need of future research on age-associated changes in individuals with spinal cord (SCI), particularly with quadriplegia, and underline the urgency of developing the specific interventions and programs for elderly individuals with SCI.

This work was supported by Project THENAPA II No 114024-CP-1-2004-1-BE-ERASMUS-TN and grant No DS-89 from the Polish Ministry of Education and Science