Objective: To evaluate if resistive inspiratory muscle training (RIMT) can improve lung function in patients with complete tetraplegia within half a year after trauma.
Design: A prospective study. The experimental patients received training with a Diemolding Healthcare Division inspiratory muscle trainer for 15 to 20 minutes per session, twice per day, 7 days a week for 6 weeks.
Setting: Hospital-based rehabilitation units.
Patients: Twenty patients who were in their first 6 months of complete cervical cord injury were randomly enrolled into RIMT (10 patients) and control (10 patients) groups.
Main outcome measure: Spirometry, lung volume test, maximal inspiratory pressure, maximal expiratory pressure, and modified Borg scale measurements at rest were performed before training and at the end of 6 weeks of training.
Results: Most of the pulmonary parameters showed statistically significant improvements within the RIMT and control groups, but the improvements were greater in the RIMT group. In addition, the improvements in total lung capacity, total lung capacity predicted percentage, vital capacity, minute ventilation, forced expiratory volume in 1 second predicted percentage, and the resting Borg scale in the RIMT group showed significantly greater improvement.
Conclusion: RIMT can improve ventilatory function, respiratory endurance, and the perceived difficulty of breathing in patients with complete cervical spinal cord injury within half a year after trauma.