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Immediate and Long-Term Effects of RMT on Spinal Cord Injuries

By November 10, 2016Blog, Neuromuscular

Most people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) have impaired respiratory functions. This includes things like inspiratory muscle weakness, decreased lung volume or ineffective cough. These can lead to respiratory complications and comorbidities. Eventually, these issues can significantly degrade an individual’s quality of life and prognosis.

In an attempt to find efficient solutions to impaired respiratory functions, research on various ways to strengthen respiratory ability has been conducted. The study explored in this blog takes a look at the immediate and long-term effects of resistive inspiratory muscle training (RIMT) in people with SCI for improving respiratory function, reducing respiratory complications and increasing quality of life.

Key Findings

  • Most people with spinal cord injury (SCI) have respiratory muscle weakness, decreased lung volume and inefficient cough.
  • 8 weeks of resistive respiratory muscle training (RMT) in people with acute SCI increased respiratory muscle strength and aspects of quality of life (QOL), including mental health status.
  • These effects were maintained over the follow-up period of 12 month.

Patient Impact

RMT effectively and sustainably improves respiratory muscle strength and QOL in people with SCI.

Study Methods

The following variables were measured throughout the duration of the study:

  • Maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure (MIP and MEP, respectively)
  • Peak expiratory flow (PEF)
  • Peak cough flow (PCF)
  • Perception of dyspnea (POD)
  • Quality of life
  • Perceived limitations of daily activities

The above were assessed before and after eight weeks of RIMT in people with acute SCI, and the results were compared to a control group. Furthermore, pulmonary complications, POD and quality of life were assessed every three months for 12 months after RIMT for analysis of long-term effects.

Study Results

RIMT significantly increased MIP and specific aspects of quality of life. It also had a positive immediate effect on the mental health status of participants.

Resistive inspiratory muscle training has an immediate positive effect in persons with acute SCI as it strengthens inspiratory muscles and promotes mental health. Long-term effects of RIMT can be maintained by continuous RIMT. It is therefore recommended as a safe and effective addition to the inpatient rehabilitation of SCI patients.

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