sleep-researchA news release from the American Physiological Society (APS) reports that there may a link between the level of injury in spinal cord injured patients and the risk of sleep-disordered breathing.

In an effort to investigate this potential link, researchers from the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center-Wayne State University studied breathing during sleep in eight patients with thoracic spinal cord injuries (SCIs), which paralyzed their legs, and eight patients with cervical SCI, which paralyzed their torsos and all four limbs.

Each of the study participants underwent initial testing at Detroit VA sleep research laboratory in order to investigate a variety of factors, including breathing during sleep. According to the release, participants that underwent testing and did not exhibit central apnea also underwent another validated test in a different session at the sleep laboratory. The session reportedly encompassed sleeping with a nasal mask connected to a ventilator that periodically induced central sleep apnea and calculated the level of carbon dioxide at which breathing stopped “apneic threshold.”

Participants who exhibited central sleep apnea during baseline testing underwent a different test involving the introduction of gas mixed with carbon dioxide to calculate the level required to eliminate the central sleep apnea. The researchers add that they also assessed the efficiency of SCI individuals’ respiratory system during sleep.

The study results suggest that 63% of patients with cervical SCI had central sleep apnea, compared to 13% of patients with thoracic SCI. The cervical SCI patients were at greater risk for central apnea and required fewer drops in carbon dioxide in their blood to trigger a stretch of central sleep apnea when compared to thoracic SCI patients. The results also indicate that the efficiency of the respiratory system in cervical SCI patients was lower and breathing was shallower during sleep than in patients with thoracic SCI.

The findings, researchers explain, indicate that the location of the spinal injury, in the neck or below the neck, can ultimately impact the risk and type of breathing issues during sleep, including central sleep apnea.

To read the study in full, click here

Source: APS