Strength Gains Without Muscle Injury After Strength Training in Patients with Postpolio Muscular Atrophy

By Ty Sevin, Aug 30, 2021

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Sidney A. Spector, MD, PhD, Patricia L. Gordon, RN, Irwin M Feuerstein, MD, Kumaraswamy Sivakumar, MD, Ben F. Hurley, PhD, and Marinos C. Dalakas, MD. Neuromuscular Disease Section, NINOS and the Department of Radiology, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; and the Laboratory of Exercise Sciences, Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.


Six patients aged 40-60 years, with postpolio muscular atrophy were evaluated to determine the effects of 10-weeks of progressive strength training on the strength in their quadriceps muscles and their triceps muscles. The quadriceps muscles were exhibiting symptoms of new weakness (occurring 15 or more years after the initial bout with polio) while the triceps muscles exhibited no symptoms. Changes in muscle size were determined with magnetic resonance imaging. Blood levels of injury indicators were measured throughout training. Muscle biopsies were taken before and after the 10-week training to assess any muscle injury and changes in muscle fiber size and type.


Strength training led to an increase in dynamic strength of 41% and 61% for the two different knee extensor tests, and 54% and 71% for the two different elbow extensor tests. Follow-up tests showed that up to 20% of the improvement was maintained 5 months after discontinuing training. Isometric strength, muscle cross-sectional areas, and blood levels of injury indicators did not change. The muscle biopsies also showed no indication of injury, and revealed no consistent changes in muscle fiber size or type.


These results demonstrate that a supervised strength training program can lead to significant gains in dynamic strength of the muscle groups of postpolio muscular atrophy patients without putting them at risk for muscular damage. This has significant implications for helping patients regain some of the strength lost as a result of the muscle atrophy.

Keiser Equipment Used

leg extension, leg press, triceps, and chest press machines

Published in Muscle & Nerve, Vol. 19, pgs. 1282-1290,October 1996.

Link to Original Article 

About the author

Ty Sevin

Director of Human Performance, Education and Research

Articles by Ty Sevin >

With over 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and Olympic levels, Ty Sevin is one of the most influential track and field coaches in the country. Ty has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, serving as the Director of the Track and Field Residency Program at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA on three separate occasions, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Ty himself was a four-time U.S. Olympics Trials qualifier in javelin. Ty most recently spent four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Texas at Austin for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to that, he led the men’s and women’s track and cross-country teams at the University of New Orleans and McNeese State.

Currently, Ty applies his vast industry experience to the role of Director of Human Performance, Research and Education for Keiser Corporation, where he consults with college and professional sports teams regarding the utilization of Keiser strength equipment. He is also responsible for creating educational curriculum relating to human performance and overseeing Keiser research projects