Respiratory Dysfunction

  • Hyun-Yoon Ko


Survival rates have improved considerably, but respiratory complications remain a major problem in population with spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injury has a significant effect on lung function. Respiratory complications pose a serious threat to patients with spinal cord injuries, and death from respiratory disease is a major cause of mortality. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death after spinal cord injury, while atelectasis, ventilatory failure, and pulmonary embolism are common causes of morbidity. These respiratory problems cannot be recognized as quickly in patients with spinal cord injuries as in normally innervated individuals. Pulmonary complications are more common in patients with spinal cord injury with higher level lesions, reduced spirometry (FEV1 and FVC), impaired gas exchange (lower PaO2), and advanced age. A high spinal cord injury above the fifth cervical level usually results in a severe impairment of the respiratory function. To minimize morbidity and mortality, patients with tetraplegia need continuous preventive measures, careful surveillance, prompt diagnosis, and appropriate treatment of respiratory complications. If a patient survives an acute stage of respiratory distress, chronic problems that may lead to a complication of the respiratory system may occur. It is important for the clinician to understand the muscles and normal mechanics of respiration before evaluating the respiratory status of the patient and establishing treatment goals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyun-Yoon Ko
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineRehabilitation Hospital, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, Pusan National University School of MedicineYangsanSouth Korea

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