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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that affects mostly young and active individuals but also impacts their family members and results in significant challenges for medical care and social integration. In addition to obvious motor impairment (tetraplegia/paraplegia), these individuals also suffer from a variety of less obvious but devastating autonomic nervous system dysfunctions that negatively impact their health and affect various aspects of daily living. Physical training and sports are essential components of rehabilitation and leaser activities for people with disabilities. Number of individuals with SCI who run an active lifestyle is increasing. Physical activity puts an additional stress on various organs and body systems. The presented manuscript describes in detail cardiovascular dysfunctions in physically active individuals with a SCI, including those engaged in Paralympic sports: low resting blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension, arrhythmias, and the phenomenon of «autonomic dysreflexia». We also address issues related to self-induced episodes of autonomic dysreflexia in order to improve athletic performance ― a phenomenon known as «boosting». Boosting may improve sports performance in short term but is associated with the risk of serious cardiovascular disorders and even sudden death. This practice is considered as anti-doping rule violation by the International Paralympic Committee and thus prohibited. Understanding of the changes occurring in the body of a physically active individual after SCI is necessary for general practitioners, neurologists, rehabilitation specialists, sports medicine physicians, as well as for specialists of adapted physical education and sports.

About the authors

Andrey V. Krassioukov

University of British Columbia

Email: krassioukov@icord.org
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0022-7972

MD, PhD, Professor.


SPIN: 3732-5282


Evgeny V. Mashkovskiy

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University)

Email: emash@me.com
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5675-3488

MD, PhD.


SPIN: 6546-6314


Russian Federation

Evgeny E. Achkasov

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University)

Email: 2215.g23@rambler.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9964-5199

MD, PhD, Professor


SPIN: 5291-0906

Russian Federation

Elena M. Kashchenko

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University)

Author for correspondence.
Email: kashchenko.elena@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5181-4379



SPIN: 8242-0045

Russian Federation


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