Chronic spinal cord injury affects several respiratory-function-related parameters, such as a decrease in respiratory volumes associated with weakness and a tendency to fibrosis of the perithoracic muscles, a predominance of vagal over sympathetic action inducing airway obstructions, and a difficulty in mobilizing secretions. Altogether, these changes result in both restrictive and obstructive patterns. Moreover, low pulmonary ventilation and reduced cardiovascular system functionality (low venous return and right stroke volume) will hinder adequate alveolar recruitment and low O2 diffusion, leading to a drop in peak physical performance. In addition to the functional effects described above, systemic and localized effects on this organ chronically increase oxidative damage and tissue inflammation. This narrative review describes both the deleterious effects of chronic spinal cord injury on the functional effects of the respiratory system as well as the role of oxidative damage/inflammation in this clinical context. In addition, the evidence for the effect of general and respiratory muscular training on the skeletal muscle as a possible preventive and treatment strategy for both functional effects and underlying tissue mechanisms is summarized.
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- oxidative stress
- respiratory muscle training
- spinal cord injury