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Effect of RMT on Spinal Cord Injuries in Wheelchair Athletes

Persons with a spinal cord injuries (SCI) have reduced respiratory function due to lower abdominal and chest wall strength and endurance, limiting their exercise capacity. This lowered capacity can lead to other complications that could dramatically affect their quality of life as well as their prognosis. This is especially true for wheelchair athletes.

In this blog post, we’re taking a look at a study that explores how respiratory resistance training (RRT) works towards strengthening inspiratory and expiratory muscle function in wheelchair-bound athletes in order to improve respiratory muscle function and exercise performance.

Key Findings

  • Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) have reduced respiratory function due to lower abdominal and chest wall strength and endurance, limiting their exercise capacity.
  • 10 weeks of respiratory resistance training increased respiratory muscle strength and lung capacity in wheelchair athletes with SCI.

Patient Impact

Respiratory muscle training (RMT) improves respiratory muscle function and exercise capacity in people with SCI.

Study Methods

Maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) were measured in wheelchair athletes before and after 10 weeks of respiratory resistance training using a concurrent flow respiratory device (CFR). These results were then compared to a control group.

Study Results

RRT with a CFR was shown to significantly improve respiratory muscle strength measured by MIP in wheelchair athletes. It also resulted in increased lung capacity as measured by MVV.

Respiratory resistance training worked to strengthen both inspiratory and expiratory muscles. As a result, respiratory muscle function in persons with SCI was significantly increased, and could support improved exercise capacity in wheelchair athletes.

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