Background Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) may benefit from resistive inspiratory muscle training (RIMT). Current evidence is weak and little is known about the effect on functional outcomes and long-term effects.
Objective To assess immediate and long-term effects of RIMT in persons with SCI.
Design single-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Setting Four specialized SCI-units in the Netherlands.
Patients Forty persons with SCI (15 with motor complete tetraplegia, 16 incomplete tetraplegia, 8 motor complete paraplegia, and 1 incomplete paraplegia) who had impaired pulmonary function and were admitted for initial inpatient rehabilitation.
Intervention Persons were randomized to the RIMT-group or the control-group. All persons received usual rehabilitation care. In addition, persons in the intervention group performed RIMT with a threshold trainer.
Measurements Measurements were performed at baseline, after 8 weeks of intervention, 8 weeks later, and one year after discharge of inpatient rehabilitation. Primary outcome measures were: respiratory muscle function, lung volumes and flows, and perceived respiratory function. Secondary outcome measures concerned patient functioning, which included health related quality of life, limitations in daily life due to respiratory problems, and respiratory complications.
Results During the intervention period, maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) improved more in the RIMT-group than in the controls (11.7 cmH2O, 95%CI: 4.3 – 19.0); at follow-up this effect was no longer significant. We found no effect on other primary or secondary outcome measures, an immediate effect on mental health excepted.
Limitations Sample size was insufficient to study effects on respiratory complications
Conclusions RIMT has a positive short-term effect on inspiratory muscle function in persons with SCI who have impaired pulmonary function during inpatient rehabilitation.
- Received February 26, 2014.
- Accepted July 19, 2014.
- © 2014 American Physical Therapy Association