Breathing patterns during breathing exercises in persons with tetraplegia

Author: Bodin P//Kreuter M//Bake B//Olsen MF
Department of Physiotherapy, SU/Sahlgrenska, Goteborg S-413 45, Sweden
Conference/Journal: Spinal Cord
Date published: 2003
Other: Volume ID: 41 , Issue ID: 5 , Pages: 290-5 , Word Count: 262

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional, observational, controlled study.

OBJECTIVES: To survey breathing patterns during breathing at rest, ordinary deep breathing (DB), positive expiratory pressure (PEP) and inspiratory resistance-positive expiratory pressure (IR-PEP) among individuals with a cervical spinal cord lesion (SCL) compared with able-bodied controls.

SETTING: Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden.

METHOD: Participants consisted of 20 persons with a complete SCL at the C5-C8 level (at least 1 year postinjury) and 20 matched, able-bodied controls. Breathing patterns and static lung volumes were measured using a body plethysmograph.

RESULTS: Compared to the controls, breathing patterns at rest among the people with tetraplegia were characterised by a decreased tidal volume, stable respiratory rate and total cycle duration resulting in decreased mean inspiratory and expiratory flow, and alveolar ventilation. All volume and flow parameters increased except respiratory rate, which decreased during DB and PEP. During IR-PEP, tidal volume increased less compared to PEP, and combined with a decreased respiratory rate the alveolar ventilation was lower than during breathing at rest. The functional residual capacity increased during PEP and IR-PEP in people with tetraplegia.

CONCLUSION: DB exercises with or without resistance during expiration or the whole breathing cycle affect the breathing pattern in persons with tetraplegia. DB was superior in increasing volumes and flow. PEP and IR-PEP increased FRC but IR-PEP decreased volumes and flows. However, large interindividual differences in the SCL group indicate the need for caution in generalising the results.

SPONSORSHIP: This work was supported in part by grants from the Memorial Foundation of the Swedish Association of registered Physiotherapists and the Association of Cancer and Road Accident Victims.