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Autonomic Nervous System Control and Spinal Cord Injury

      Spinal cord injury (SCI) is accompanied by changes in autonomic nervous system function, including, cardio-respiratory control. Cardio-respiratory complications are frequently reported as leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the SCI population. Exercise is now an integral part of rehabilitation after SCI and for reducing cardiovascular disease, as well as other symptoms, in SCI. Furthermore, participation rates in SCI sports are steadily increasing. Unfortunately, there is a limited understanding of how SCI induced changes in cardio-respiratory control may affect exercise responses. An improved understanding of how cardio-respiratory systems interact during exercise can help optimize training and exercise performance, as well as ensure effective health interventions and reduce ‘cardio-respiratory burden’ in the SCI population. This symposium will discuss autonomic cardio-respiratory changes after SCI and their effect on exercise performance, including appropriate countermeasures, as well as the implications for health.
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