Resistive Inspiratory Muscle Training in People With Spinal Cord Injury During Inpatient Rehabilitation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Karin Postma*, Janneke A. Haisma, Maria T. E. Hopman, Michael P. Bergen, Henk J. Stam, Johannes B. Bussmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background. People 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. The purpose of this study was to assess immediate and long-term effects of RIMT in people with SCI.Design. This was a single-blinded randomized controlled trial.Setting. The study was conducted at 4 specialized SCI units in the Netherlands.Patients. The study participants were 40 people with SCI (15 with motor complete tetraplegia, 16 with incomplete tetraplegia, 8 with motor complete paraplegia, and 1 with incomplete paraplegia) who had impaired pulmonary function and were admitted for initial inpatient rehabilitation.Intervention. Study participants were randomized to an RIMT group or a control group. All participants received usual rehabilitation care. In addition, participants 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 1 year after discharge from 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 control group (11.7 cm H2O, 95% confidence interval=4.3 to 19.0). At follow-up, this effect was no longer significant. No effect on other primary or secondary outcome measures was found except for an immediate effect on mental health.Limitations. The sample size was insufficient to study effects on respiratory complications.Conclusions. Resistive inspiratory muscle training has a positive short-term effect on inspiratory muscle function in people with SCI who have impaired pulmonary function during inpatient rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1719
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Role of the Funding Source:
This study was supported by the
Kinderrevalidatie Fonds Adriaanstichting (grant no. 2007/0179-063).

Research programs

  • EMC MUSC-01-46-01


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