Body composition assessment by bioelectrical impedance analysis and body mass index in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury

Eliza Regina Ferreira Braga Machado de Azevedo, Karina Cristina Alonso, Alberto Cliquet Jr


Purpose: To assess body composition and obesity in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who practice and do not practice physical activity using body mass index (BMI) and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

Methods: 39 patients with SCI went through BIA evaluation. Also, BMI was assessed. Patients were divided in four groups according to injury level (paraplegia or tetraplegia) and physical activity achievement (active or inactive).

Results: 22 individuals with paraplegia (7 active and 15 inactive) and 17 with tetraplegia (5 active and 12 inactive) were evaluated. BMI, fat percentage, fat mass, lean tissue mass, total body water (TBW) and TBW percentage were assessed in groups. Tetraplegic inactive groups showed higher fat percentage featuring obesity. For pareplegic active group mean fat percentage was 19.61% (±9.27) and mean fat mass was 16.66 kg (±9.71) and for paraplegic inactive group fat percentage was 23.27% (±5.94) and fat mass 18.59 kg (±7.58). For tetraplegic groups in active group the fat percentage was 17.14% (±6.32) and fat mass was 11.22 kg (±5.16) and for inactive group mean fat percentage was 33.68% (±4.74) and fat mass was 25.59 kg (±2.91). When paraplegic and tetraplegic inactive groups were compared differences were observed in fat percentage (p=0.0003) and fat mass (p=0.0084). Also, when tetraplegic groups (activeXinactive) were compared diferences in percentage (p=0.0019) and fat mass (p=0.034) were observed. Only for the paraplegic inactive group BMI result was higher than 25kg/m².

Conclusion: BMI does not discriminate obesity in individuals with SCI and physical activity can improve body composition and prevent obesity in SCI patients.


body composition; fat mass; body mass index; spinal cord injury; physical activity; bioelectrical impedance analysis

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