Background: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a disabling condition characterized by multilevel skeletal muscle impairment and rapid cortical and trabecular bone loss. Rehabilitation is a cornerstone of the long-term management of patients with SCI; however, the optimal rehabilitation strategy for improving bone health has not been fully characterized. Objective: To characterize the current evidence supporting different rehabilitation interventions improving bone health in patients with SCI. Methods: On November 17th, 2022, five databases (PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane, and PEDro) were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing SCI patients undergoing rehabilitation interventions. The primary outcomes were bone macroscopical effects. Secondary outcomes were changes in bone metabolisms and functional outcomes. Results: Out of 499 records, 11 RCTs met the eligibility criteria and were included. Electrical stimulation combined with physical exercise was assessed by 5 studies, standing intervention was assessed by 3 studies, vibration was assessed by 1 study, ultrasound therapy was assessed by 1 study, and electroacupuncture combined with a pulsed magnetic field was assessed by 1 study. The rehabilitation intervention was administered combined with pharmacological treatment (3 studies) or alone (8 studies). Positive effects in terms of BMD were reported by 3 studies. The quality assessment revealed some concerns in 9 out of 11 studies, in accordance with the Cochrane Risk of Bias assessment - version 2. Conclusion: Our data suggest that multicomponent interventions including rehabilitation might be considered a suitable option to improve bone health management in SCI patients. Further studies are mandatory to characterize the optimal combination of non-pharmacological interventions reducing bone loss and improving the risk of fractures in patients with SCI.
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