Hypoxia May Help Walking Endurance in Spinal Cord Injury Victims

Posted on Dec 29, 2013

Are you a victim of a spinal cord injury (SCI) that has severely affected your ability to walk? Are you afraid that you’ll never be able to take your favorite stroll around Rock Creek Park or the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden again? A promising new Emory University study involving regulated oxygen levels may help ease your mind and get you one step closer to your favorite park.

The study is based on the notion that over half of all spinal injuries still leave neural pathways intact, allowing them to strengthen and increase a victim’s ability to walk longer distances. So far, the new study has yielded positive results for victims who were able to take one unassisted step prior to treatment.

The study required participants to breathe regulated air 40 minutes a day for five days. During these 40 minutes, 90 seconds of low-oxygenated (hypoxic) air was alternated with 60 seconds of normal air. Two weeks later, half of the participants were given the same treatment again; the other half, the control group, received normally oxygenated air. The participants’ walking endurances were also periodically tested throughout the two-week process to detect and record any noticeable changes.

The results of the hypoxic treatments were extremely positive.

  • All participants increased their walking abilities
  • 30 percent increased walking speed
  • 70 percent increased endurance by at least 50 meters
  • Non-placebo participants were able to walk an average of 100 meters farther than the control group participants

The American Journal of Medical Neurology has recently published these findings, and further research is ongoing. The Northern Virginia spine injury lawyers at Shevlin Smith wish to extend our congratulations to all those involved. We also hope that with further study, these types of treatments will further help SCI victims be able to enjoy their favorite walking paths once again.

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