Bone Mineral Status in Paraplegic Patients Who Do or Do Not Perform Standing

Bone mineral density 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 or did not 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. The present results suggest that passive mechanical loading can have a beneficial effect on the preservation of bone mass in osteoporosis found in paraplegics.

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