Physiotherapy rehabilitation of respiratory system and the factors which facilitate its plasticity after Spinal Cord Injury

  • Daphne Balatsou
  • Ioannis S Benetos
  • Ioannis Vlamis
  • Spyridon G. Pneumaticos
Keywords: spinal cord injury, respiratory physiotherapy, respiratory muscle training


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is quite common and can occur either as an acute injury after an accident or a fall, or as the result of other pathological conditions. SCI results in important loss of functionality, which apart from the kinetic affects multiple physiological systems, such as the respiratory system. The aim of this study was to review the methods of respiratory physiotherapy rehabilitation in patients with SCI. For this reason, a review of the current literature was performed by using the online PUBMED database and the following keywords: spinal cord injury; respiratory physiotherapy; respiratory muscle training. Inclusion criteria in the review were: primary studies in humans with SCI, published after 2000 in English language. Twenty-one studies were finally included in the review. Currently, many respiratory physiotherapy protocols are available aiming at the strengthening of respiratory and abdominal muscles, respiration training and phrenic nerve stimulation. The respiratory and abdominal muscles strengthening interventions improve respiratory function and cough production capacity and decrease the frequency of respiratory infections. Phrenic nerve stimulation constitutes a promising technique, as it promotes cough production, decreases respiratory infections and is more cost- effective compared with other respiratory physiotherapy interventions.  


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Author Biographies

Daphne Balatsou

Daphne Balatsou, Postgraduate student, Medical School of Athens,

Ioannis S Benetos

MD, Academic fellow of Orthopaedic Surgery,  3rd Department of Orthopaedic Surgery NKUA, KAT Hospital; 2132086209,

Ioannis Vlamis

MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, 3rd Department of Orthopaedic Surgery NKUA, KAT Hospital; , 2132086209, 

Spyridon G. Pneumaticos

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, 3rd Department of Orthopaedic Surgery NKUA, KAT Hospital;  2132086209,


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