Does standing protect bone density in patients with chronic spinal cord injury?

date: 2008;31(2):197-201.
author: Goktepe A.
publication: J Spinal Cord Med.
PubMed ID:18581668



To compare the t-scores of proximal femur and lumbar spine of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) with different levels of weight bearing.


Cross-sectional study comparing 3 groups of patients with SCI: patients with daily standing times of more than 1 hour, patients with daily standing times of less than 1 hour, and nonstanding patients. Seventy-one patients with chronic SCI were recruited. They were assigned to 1 of 3 groups according to their reported daily standing time. The bone density of lumbar and proximal femoral regions was measured with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.


The 3 groups were similar in terms of demographics and clinical variables. No significant difference was found among the mean t-scores of lumbar and proximal femoral regions of the groups. However, the patients in the group that stood more than 1 hour daily had a slight tendency to have higher t-scores than those in the control group.


There was no significant difference among the 3 groups. However, standing might be partially helpful in protecting the bone density in SCI by opposing the effects of immobilization.

Bone mineral status in paraplegic patients who do or do not perform standing

date: 1994 May;4(3):138-43.
author: Goemaere S.
publication: Osteoporos Int.
PubMed ID:8069052


Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed by dual-photon X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine (L3, L4), the proximal femur and the femoral shaft, and by single-photon absorptiometry at the forearm in 53 patients with complete traumatic paraplegia of at least 1 year’s duration and in age- and sex-matched healthy controls. The patients did (n = 38) or did not (n = 15) regularly perform passive weightbearing standing with the aid of a standing device. Compared with the controls, the BMD of paraplegic patients was preserved in the lumbar spine and was markedly decreased in the proximal femur (33%) and the femoral shaft (25%). When considering all patients performing standing, they had a better-preserved BMD at the femoral shaft (p = 0.009), but not at the proximal femur, than patients not performing standing. BMD at the lumbar spine (L3, L4) was marginally higher in the standing group (significant only for L3; p = 0.040). A subgroup of patients performing standing with use of long leg braces had a significantly higher BMD at the proximal femur than patients using a standing frame or a standing wheelchair (p = 0.030). The present results suggest that passive mechanical loading can have a beneficial effect on the preservation of bone mass in osteoporosis found in paraplegics.

Bone mineral density in upper and lower extremities during 12 months after spinal cord injury measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography

date: 2000 Jan;38(1):26-32.
author: Frey-Rindova P.
publication: Spinal Cord.
PubMed ID:10762194



To evaluate the loss of trabecular and cortical bone mineral density in radius, ulna and tibia of spinal cord injured persons with different levels of neurologic lesion after 6, 12 and 24 months of spinal cord injury (SCI).


Prospective study in a Paraplegic Centre of the University Hospital Balgrist, Zurich.


Twenty-nine patients (27 males, two females) were examined by the highly precise peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) soon after injury and subsequently at 6, 12 and in some cases 24 months after SCI. Using analysis of the bone mineral density (BMD), various degrees of trabecular and cortical bone loss were recognised. A rehabilitation program was started as soon as possible (1-4 weeks) after SCI. The influence of the level of neurological lesion was determined by analysis of variance (ANOVA). Spasticity was assessed by the Ashworth Scale.


The trabecular bone mineral density of radius and ulna was significantly reduced in subjects with tetraplegia 6 months (radius 19% less, P<0.01; ulna 6% less, P>0.05) and 12 months after SCI (radius 28% less, P<0.01; ulna 15% less, P<0.05). The cortical bone density was significantly reduced 12 months after SCI (radius 3% less, P<0.05; ulna 4% less, P<0.05). No changes in BMD of trabecular or cortical bone of radius and ulna were detected in subjects with paraplegia. The trabecular BMD of tibia was significantly reduced 6 months (5% less, P<0.05) and 12 months after SCI (15% less, P<0.05) in all subjects with SCI. The cortical bone density of the tibia only was decreased after a year following SCI (7% less, P<0.05). No significant difference between both groups, subjects with paraplegia and subjects with tetraplegia was found for tibia cortical or trabecular BMD. There was no significant influence for the physical activity level or the degree of spasticity on bone mineral density in all subjects with SCI.


Twelve months after SCI a significant decrease of BMD was found in trabecular bone in radius and in tibia of subjects with tetraplegia. In subjects paraplegia, a decrease only in tibia BMD occurred. Intensity of physical activity did not significantly influence the loss of BMD in all subjects with para- and tetraplegia. However, in some subjects regular intensive loading exercise activity in early rehabilitation (tilt table, standing) can possibly attenuate the decrease of BMD of tibia. No influence was found for the degree of spasticity on the bone loss in all subjects with SCI


Does 12 weeks of regular standing prevent loss of ankle mobility and bone mineral density in people with recent spinal cord injuries?

date: 2005;51(4):251-6.
author: Ben M.
publication: Aust J Physiother.
PubMed ID:16321132



The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a 12-week standing program on ankle mobility and femur bone mineral density in patients with lower limb paralysis following recent spinal cord injury. An assessor-blinded within-subject randomised controlled trial was undertaken. Twenty patients with lower limb paralysis following a recent spinal cord injury were recruited. Subjects stood weight-bearing through one leg on a tilt-table for 30 minutes, three times each week for 12 weeks. By standing on one leg a large dorsiflexion stretch was applied to the ankle and an axial load was applied to the bones of the weight-bearing leg. Ankle mobility and femur bone mineral density of both legs were measured at the beginning and end of the study. Ankle mobility (range of motion) was measured with the application of a 17 Nm dorsiflexion torque. Femur bone mineral density was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The effect of standing was estimated from the difference between legs in mean change of ankle mobility and femur bone mineral density. The results indicated a mean treatment effect on ankle mobility of 4 degrees (95% CI 2 to 6 degrees) and on femur bone mineral density of 0.005 g/cm(2) (95% CI -0.015 to 0.025 g/cm(2)). Tilt-table standing for 30 minutes, three times per week for 12 weeks has a small effect on ankle mobility, and little or no effect on femur bone mineral density. It is unclear whether clinicians and patients would consider such effects to be clinically worthwhile.

Inactivity is a risk factor for low bone mineral density among haemophilic children

date: 2008 Mar;140(5):562-7
author: Tlacuilo-Parra A1, Morales-Zambrano R, Tostado-Rabago N, Esparza-Flores MA, Lopez-Guido B, Orozco-Alcala J.
publication: Br J Haematol.
pubmed_ID: 18275434



Reduced bone mineral density (BMD) in childhood is a risk factor for osteoporosis in later life. This case-control study determined the prevalence of low BMD, calcium intake and physical activity in 62 haemophilic children and 62 sex-, race- and age-matched healthy boys as controls. Lumbar spine (L2-L4) BMD was determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; BMD was considered to be low when Z-score > or =2. Physical activity was assessed using a validated questionnaire and calcium intake with a standardized quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Twenty-four patients (38%) had low BMD, whereas this was found in only 10 (16%) controls [odds ratio (OR) 2.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.17-7.41; P = 0.014]. Lumbar BMD was significantly lower in the haemophilia patients than the controls (-1.6 +/- 1.0 vs. -0.9 +/- 0.9 respectively; P = 0.0004). Sedentary and low-grade exercise predominated in haemophilia (77%) versus control (50%) (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.36-7.79; P = 0.003). There were no differences between groups with regard to calcium intake. Our results suggest that low-physical activity is a risk factor for reduced lumbar bone mass in the haemophilic group. This factor must be monitored to avoid a significant reduction in BMD that might contribute to further skeletal fragility.

Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and

date: 2010 May 11;7:40.
author: Janssen I1, Leblanc AG.
publication: Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act.
pubmed_ID: 20459784




The purpose was to: 1) perform a systematic review of studies examining the relation between physical activity, fitness, and health in school-aged children and youth, and 2) make recommendations based on the findings.


The systematic review was limited to 7 health indicators: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, the metabolic syndrome, obesity, low bone density, depression, and injuries. Literature searches were conducted using predefined keywords in 6 key databases. A total of 11,088 potential papers were identified. The abstracts and full-text articles of potentially relevant papers were screened to determine eligibility. Data was abstracted for 113 outcomes from the 86 eligible papers. The evidence was graded for each health outcome using established criteria based on the quantity and quality of studies and strength of effect. The volume, intensity, and type of physical activity were considered.


Physical activity was associated with numerous health benefits. The dose-response relations observed in observational studies indicate that the more physical activity, the greater the health benefit. Results from experimental studies indicate that even modest amounts of physical activity can have health benefits in high-risk youngsters (e.g., obese). To achieve substantive health benefits, the physical activity should be of at least a moderate intensity. Vigorous intensity activities may provide even greater benefit. Aerobic-based activities had the greatest health benefit, other than for bone health, in which case high-impact weight bearing activities were required.


The following recommendations were made: 1) Children and youth 5-17 years of age should accumulate an average of at least 60 minutes per day and up to several hours of at least moderate intensity physical activity. Some of the health benefits can be achieved through an average of 30 minutes per day. [Level 2, Grade A]. 2) More vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated or added when possible, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone [Level 3, Grade B]. 3) Aerobic activities should make up the majority of the physical activity. Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated on at least 3 days of the week [Level 2, Grade A].

Optimizing bone health and calcium intakes of infants, children, and adolescents.

date: 2006 Feb;117(2):578-85.
author: Greer FR, Krebs NF; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.
publication: Pediatrics.



Most older children and adolescents in the United States currently do not achieve the recommended intake of calcium. Maintaining adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence is necessary for the development of peak bone mass, which may be important in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life. Optimal calcium intake is especially relevant during adolescence, when most bone mineral accretion occurs. Because of the influence of the family’s diet on the diet of children and adolescents, adequate calcium intake by all members of the family is important. Assessment of calcium intake can be performed in the physician’s office. A well-rounded diet including low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables and appropriate physical activity are important for achieving good bone health. Establishing these practices in childhood is important so that they will be followed throughout the life span

Mobility status and bone density in cerebral palsy

date: 1996 Aug;75(2):164-5
author: Wilmshurst S1, Ward K, Adams JE, Langton CM, Mughal MZ.
publication: Arch Dis Child.



The spinal bone mineral density (SBMD) and calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) was measured in 27 children with cerebral palsy. They were categorised into four mobility groups: mobile with an abnormal gait, mobile with assistance, non-mobile but weight bearing, non-mobile or weight bearing. Mean SD scores for BUA and SBMD differed among mobility groups (analysis of variance, p < 0.001 and p = 0.078, respectively).

Low magnitude mechanical loading is osteogenic in children with disabling conditions.

date:2004 Mar;19(3):360-9.
author: Ward K1, Alsop C, Caulton J, Rubin C, Adams J, Mughal Z.
publication: J. Bone Miner Res

pubmed_ID: 15040823



The osteogenic potential of short durations of low-level mechanical stimuli was examined in children with disabling conditions. The mean change in tibia vTBMD was +6.3% in the intervention group compared with -11.9% in the control group. This pilot randomized controlled trial provides preliminary evidence that low-level mechanical stimuli represent a noninvasive, non-pharmacological treatment of low BMD in children with disabling conditions.


Recent animal studies have demonstrated the anabolic potential of lowmagnitude, high-frequency mechanical stimuli to the trabecular bone of weight-bearing regions of the skeleton. The main aim of this prospective, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial (RCT) was to examine whether these signals could effectively increase tibial and spinal volumetric trabecular BMD (vTBMD; mg/ml) in children with disabling conditions.


Twenty pre-or postpubertal disabled, ambulant, children (14 males, 6 females; mean age, 9.1 +/- 4.3 years; range, 4-19 years) were randomized to standing on active (n = 10; 0.3g, 90 Hz) or placebo (n = 10) devices for 10 minutes/day, 5 days/week for 6 months. The primary outcomes of the trial were proximal tibial and spinal (L2) vTBMD (mg/ml), measured using 3-D QCT. Posthoc analyses were performed to determine whether the treatment had an effect on diaphyseal cortical bone and muscle parameters.


Compliance was 44% (4.4 minutes per day), as determined by mean time on treatment (567.9 minutes) compared with expected time on treatment over the 6 months (1300 minutes). After 6 months, the mean change in proximal tibial vTBMD in children who stood on active devices was 6.27 mg/ml (+6.3%); in children who stood on placebo devices, vTBMD decreased by -9.45 mg/ml (-11.9%). Thus, the net benefit of treatment was +15.72 mg/ml (17.7%; p = 0.0033). In the spine, the net benefit of treatment, compared with placebo, was +6.72 mg/ml, (p = 0.14). Diaphyseal bone and muscle parameters did not show a response to treatment. The results of this pilot RCT have shown for the first time that lowmagnitude, high-frequency mechanical stimuli are anabolic to trabecular bone in children, possibly by providing a surrogate for suppressed muscular activity in the disabled. Over the course of a longer treatment period, harnessing bone’s sensitivity to these stimuli may provide a non-pharmacological treatment for bone fragility in children.


A randomised controlled trial of standing programme on bone mineral density in non-ambulant children with cerebral palsy.

date: 2004 Feb;89(2):131-5
author: Caulton J.
publication:Arch Dis Child.
pubmed_ID: 14736627



Severely disabled children with cerebral palsy (CP) are prone to low trauma fractures, which are associated with reduced bone mineral density.


To determine whether participation in 50% longer periods of standing (in either upright or semi-prone standing frames) would lead to an increase in the vertebral and proximal tibial volumetric trabecular bone mineral density (vTBMD) of non-ambulant children with CP.


A heterogeneous group of 26 pre-pubertal children with CP (14 boys, 12 girls; age 4.3-10.8 years) participated in this randomised controlled trial. Subjects were matched into pairs using baseline vertebral vTBMD standard deviation scores. Children within the pairs were randomly allocated to either intervention (50% increase in the regular standing duration) or control (no increase in the regular standing duration) groups. Pre- and post-trial vertebral and proximal tibial vTBMD was measured by quantitative computed tomography (QCT).


The median standing duration was 80.5% (9.5-102%) and 140.6% (108.7-152.2%) of the baseline standing duration in the control group and intervention group respectively. The mean vertebral vTBMD in the intervention group showed an increase of 8.16 mg/cm3 representing a 6% mean increase in vertebral vTBMD. No change was observed in the mean proximal tibial vTBMD.


A longer period of standing in non-ambulant children with CP improves vertebral but not proximal tibial vTBMD. Such an intervention might reduce the risk of vertebral fractures but is unlikely to reduce the risk of lower limb fractures in children with CP.