Study design: Retrospective study.
Objectives: To model the effect of time since injury on longitudinal respiratory function measures in spinal cord injured-individuals and to investigate the effect of patient characteristics.
Setting: A total of 173 people who sustained a spinal cord injury between 1966 and April 2013 and who had previously participated in research or who underwent clinically indicated outpatient respiratory function tests at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, were included in the study. At least two measurements over time were available for analysis in 59 patients.
Methods: Longitudinal data analysis was performed using generalised linear regression models to determine changes in respiratory function following spinal cord injury from immediately post injury to many years later. Secondly, we explored whether injury severity, age, gender and body mass index (BMI) at injury altered the time-dependent change in respiratory function.
Results: The generalised linear regression model showed no significant change (P=0.276) in respiratory function measured in (forced) vital capacity ((F)VC) after the spinal cord injury. However, significant (P<0.05) differences in respiratory function over time were found when categorising age and BMI. Conclusion: This clinical cohort with long-term, repeated measurements of respiratory function showed no significant overall change in respiratory function over 23 years. However, a decline in respiratory function over time was observed in subgroups of individuals older than 30 years at the onset of injury and in those with a BMI>30 kg m−2.
L van Silfhout, A E J Peters, D J Berlowitz, R Schembri, D Thijssen and M Graco