Researchers restore complete respiratory muscle function
VA doctors are among a team of researchers at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center restoring respiratory muscle function to Veterans and individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Doctors Anthony DiMarco and Krzysztof Kowalski developed the first method in the world that can activate expiratory muscles (abdominal and lower rib cage muscles), using minimally invasive techniques to produce an effective cough.
Patients with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) are 3 to 4 times more likely to have sleep disordered breathing (SDB) than individuals in the general population. The prevalence of SDB — both central and obstructive sleep apnea — ranges from 27% to 82% in patients with subacute and chronic SCI/D.
The Why and How of SDB in SCI
The type of spinal cord injury affects the prevalence of SDB; patients with quadriplegia are more likely to have SDB than patients with paraplegia.
A research team at the Krembil Research Institute in Toronto has developed an innovative strategy that could help to restore breathing following traumatic spinal cord injury.
The team, led by principal investigator Dr. Michael Fehlings – a neurosurgeon/neuroscientist, specialist in spinal cord injury and senior scientist at UHN – published its findings today in the journal Nature in a paper titled “Cervical excitatory neurons sustain breathing after spinal cord injury.”
Bottom Line: A team of neuroscientists has uncovered a neural network that can restore diaphragm function after spinal cord injury. The network allows the diaphragm to contract without input from the brain, which could help paralyzed spinal cord injury patients breathe without a respirator.
Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cell Reports
Author: Jared Cregg, Neurosciences graduate student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio is first author on the study.
Exercise is particularly beneficial for adults with chronic spinal cord injuries, says a review published by NeurologyNow.
Does Exercise Help?
People with spinal cord injuries are far less active compared to people in the general population and even compared to people with other disabilities.
That’s why researchers in the United Kingdom and Canada decided to review the available evidence to see how much and what types of exercise are beneficial for people with these types of injuries.
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.