Combination Therapy With Zoledronic Acid and FES-Row Training Mitigates Bone Loss in Paralyzed Legs: Results of a Randomized Comparative Clinical Trial

L. R. Morse, K. L. Troy, Y. Fang, N. Nguyen, R. Battaglino, R. F. Goldstein, R. Gupta, J. A. Taylor

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18 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in rapid, severe osteoporosis and an increased risk of lower extremity fractures. Despite the medical complications associated with these fractures, there is no standard of care to prevent osteoporotic fractures following SCI. Functional electrical stimulation- (FES-) assisted rowing is a promising intervention to improve bone health in SCI because of its ability to generate a muscular contraction in conjunction with mechanical loading of the lower extremity long bones. Combination therapy consisting of FES-rowing plus zoledronic acid (ZA) may be a superior treatment via inhibition of bone resorption and stimulation of new bone formation. We studied participants enrolled in a randomized clinical trial comparing FES-rowing alone with FES-rowing plus ZA to improve bone health in SCI. Volumetric CT scans at the distal femur and proximal tibial metaphyses were performed. Bone geometric properties (cortical thickness index [CTI], cortical compressive strength index [CSI], buckling ratio [BR], bending strength index) and mineral (cortical bone volume [CBV], cortical bone mineral density, cortical bone mineral content) indices were determined. In models adjusting for baseline values, we found that the CBV (p = 0.05 to 0.006), the CTI (p = 0.009), and the BR (p = 0.001) at both the distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphyses were greater in the ZA plus rowing group compared with the rowing-only group. Similarly, there was a significant positive association between the total rowing work completed and the BR at the proximal tibia (p = 0.05). A subgroup analysis of the rowing-only arm showed that gains in the CSI at the tibial metaphysis varied in a dose-dependent fashion based on the total amount of exercise performed (p = 0.009). These findings demonstrate that the osteogenic response to FES-rowing is dose-dependent. Combination therapy with ZA and FES-row training has therapeutic potential to improve bone quality, and perhaps reduce fracture risk at the most common fracture site following SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10167
JournalJBMR Plus
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

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© 2019 The Authors. JBMR Plus Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.




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