Background: Functional loss of respiratory muscles in persons with spinal cord injury leads to impaired pulmonary function and respiratory complications. In addition, respiratory complications are responsible for 50-67% of the morbidity in this population.
Objective: To investigate the effects of normocapnic hyperpnoea training in acute spinal cord injury.
Patients and methods: Fourteen patients were randomized between control (sham) and an experimental normocapnic hyperpnoea training group. Vital capacity, maximal voluntary ventilation, respiratory muscle strength and endurance, respiratory complications and symptoms were evaluated before, after 4 and 8 weeks of training and after 8 weeks follow-up.
Results: Maximal voluntary ventilation, respiratory muscle strength and endurance improved significantly in the experimental group compared with the control group (p < 0.05). Improvements in vital capacity tended to be different from the control group at 8 weeks of training. The Index of Pulmonary Dysfunction decreased after 4 weeks of training and respiratory complications were reported less frequently in the experimental group compared with the control group.
Conclusion: Normocapnic hyperpnoea training in patients with spinal cord injury improved respiratory muscle strength and endurance. Respiratory complications occurred less frequently after training.