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Spinal Cord. 1997 Aug;35(8):540-5.

Effects of respiratory muscle training and electrical stimulation of abdominal muscles on respiratory capabilities in tetraplegic patients.

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Rehabilitation Institute, Slovenia.


Thirteen tetraplegic patients were included in the study of the effects of respiratory muscle training and of electrical stimulation of the abdominal muscles on their respiratory capabilities. Each patient was subjected for three 1 month lasting periods of the study: for inspiratory muscle training, expiratory muscle training and for a period without training. The sequence of these three periods was random for each patient. Respiratory tests (RT) measuring forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were conducted before and following each monthly period. Measurements were taken under four sets of conditions: the patients' unassisted efforts, their efforts combined with pressure manually applied by a therapist to the upper part of their abdomen, and their efforts accompanied by electrical stimulation (ES) of the abdominal muscles during the early phase of expirium, once triggered by the therapist and once by the patients themselves. RT values were increasing following respiratory muscle training and inspiratory training apparently had a slightly greater effect than its expiratory counterpart. The increments of values of RT were statistically significant (P < 0.05) after the inspiratory muscle training. RT measurements were greater when the patient's voluntary effort was combined with ES of abdominal muscles than when it was not. This study concludes that respiratory muscle training is a potentially effective approach and that ES of the abdominal muscles has potentials to improve coughing in tetraplegic patients.

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