Low Oxygen Exposure May Aid Walking With Spinal Injury

Racial Disparities Exist in Outcomes of Spinal Surgery
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Combo of hypoxia treatment, overground walking linked to gains in speed, endurance.

(HealthDay News) – A combination of daily acute intermittent hypoxia (dAIH) and overground walking improves walking speed and distance in persons with chronic incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI), according to a study published online Nov. 27 in Neurology.

Heather B. Hayes, PhD, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues randomized 19 patients to receive 15, 90-second dAIH (fraction of inspired oxygen [FIO2]=0.09) or daily normoxia (dSHAM; FIO2=0.21) at 60-second normoxic intervals on five consecutive days; dAIH was administered either alone or combined with 30 minutes of overground walking one hour later.

The researchers found that dAIH improved walking speed and endurance. With dAIH, the 10-Meter Walk time improved after one day, compared to dSHAM (mean difference [MD], 3.8 seconds; P=0.006) and at two weeks (MD, 3.8 seconds; P=0.010). Using combined dAIH + walking, 6-Minute Walk distance increased after five days (MD, 94.4 meters; P=0.017) and one week of follow-up (MD, 97.0 meters; P=0.014), compared to dSHAM + walking. Compared to dAIH alone, dAIH + walking increased walking distance after one day (MD, 67.7 meters; P=0.046), five days (MD, 107.0 meters; P=0.002), and one week of follow-up (MD, 136.0 meters; P<0.001).

“The impact of dAIH is enhanced by combination with walking, demonstrating that combinatorial therapies may promote greater functional benefits in persons with iSCI,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical or rehabilitation industry.

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