I'm paraplegic too so much of what you say strikes a chord with me too. From what you say I'm guessing I'm a bit lower than you at T11 as I can contract the abs (just). Even so, I struggle with balance too when sitting - shoulder dumbell presses for example are out of the question unless I do them unilaterally and hold on to something with the non-working arm.
My back workout consists of (though not all of them in the same session):
chins (my partner will hold my ankles to keep my legs off the floor),
close grip pulldowns
I perform these exercises perhaps slightly differently to the norm to accomodate the situation.
Lat pulldown - sat on the bench - no back support - arch the back - pull the bar to the front (upper chest/neck)) not behind the head.
Chins - as per lat pulldowns but the stack is set to its heavyest obviously
Close grip pulldowns - I use the bench with back support and tie a strong belt around my waist and around the bench otherwise instead of pulling the handle and lifting the stack, it would simply lift me up! I guess I lift much more than I weigh. I use a triangular type attachment and concentrate on pulling with the back rather than the biceps (as should be the case with all back exercises)
Dumbell shrugs - Sat on bench with back support. I tend to do these unilaterally (one arm at a time) as I find that both arms would make the weight and compression on the spine too much - I have scholiosis, not too bad to look at, but fcukin horrendous looking if you saw my xrays lol.
Cable rows - There is no way we could do a standard cable row as we cannot stop ourselves from moving forwards when pulling. Therefore I use the high pulley instead of the low one and lie flat on my back. I strap a belt around my chest (not too tight lol) to stop me lifting up, then pull the cable downwards using a short straight bar.
For me, staying in the chair to do any exercise would offer very little support in comparison to using a bench in the situp position (providing your bench is adjustable). I do most exercises in this position:
Dumbell curls, forearm curls, hammer curls
Shoulder press, lateral raises, front raises
Obviously there are many that I do laying flat such as bench pressing, french presses, skullcrushers, chest flyes.
post edited by PartyBoy - 2007/06/22 16:09:19