Objective: To assess factors associated with breathlessness in chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) during daily activities. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Settings: Veterans Affairs SCI service and the community. Participants: Four hundred forty-one participants 1 or more years post-SCI, and without acute illness, were recruited between 1994 and 2003 and were categorized according to their ability to walk unassisted, walk with an aid, or to move about by either hand-propelled wheelchair or motorized wheelchair (MWC). Interventions: Assessment of injury extent, respiratory symptoms, cigarette smoking, comorbid medical conditions, and spirometry. Main Outcome Measures: Breathlessness during talking, eating, or dressing. Results: Breathlessness was more common in MWC users (20/85 users, 24%) than in nonusers (20/356, 6%). The main activity associated with breathlessness in 15 MWC users was talking (18%). In MWC users, the risk of breathlessness was related to lifetime cigarette smoking (odds ratio [OR]=1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.03 per pack year), and reports of chronic cough (OR=7.8; 95% CI, 2.0-32.7), and wheeze (OR=3.5; 95% CI, 1.04-13.6). SCI level, percentage of predicted forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and maximal inspiratory pressures were not related to breathlessness. Conclusions: Breathlessness during selected daily activities (most commonly talking) was greatest in SCI participants who were most impaired with regard to mobility and was associated with reports of coughing, wheezing, and cigarette smoking.
- Dyspnea, Rehabilitation
- Spinal cord injuries
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation