The effects of rehabilitation on the muscles of the trunk following prolonged bed rest

School of Physiotherapy, Australian Catholic University, McCauley Campus, PO Box 456, Virginia, QLD, 4014, Australia.
European Spine Journal (Impact Factor: 2.07). 05/2011; 20(5):808-18. DOI: 10.1007/s00586-010-1491-x
Source: PubMed


Microgravity and inactivity due to prolonged bed rest have been shown to result in atrophy of spinal extensor muscles such as the multifidus, and either no atrophy or hypertrophy of flexor muscles such as the abdominal group and psoas muscle. These effects are long-lasting after bed rest and the potential effects of rehabilitation are unknown. This two-group intervention study aimed to investigate the effects of two rehabilitation programs on the recovery of lumbo-pelvic musculature following prolonged bed rest. 24 subjects underwent 60 days of head down tilt bed rest as part of the 2nd Berlin BedRest Study (BBR2-2). After bed rest, they underwent one of two exercise programs, trunk flexor and general strength (TFS) training or specific motor control (SMC) training. Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbo-pelvic region was conducted at the start and end of bed rest and during the recovery period (14 and 90 days after re-ambulation). Cross-sectional areas (CSAs) of the multifidus, psoas, lumbar erector spinae and quadratus lumborum muscles were measured from L1 to L5. Morphological changes including disc volume, spinal length, lordosis angle and disc height were also measured. Both exercise programs restored the multifidus muscle to pre-bed-rest size, but further increases in psoas muscle size were seen in the TFS group up to 14 days after bed rest. There was no significant difference in the number of low back pain reports for the two rehabilitation groups (p=.59). The TFS program resulted in greater decreases in disc volume and anterior disc height. The SMC training program may be preferable to TFS training after bed rest as it restored the CSA of the multifidus muscle without generating potentially harmful compressive forces through the spine.

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