Low Oxygen on Limb Mobility After Spinal Injury

Effects of Breathing Mild Bouts of Low Oxygen on Limb Mobility After Spinal Injury

Accumulating evidence suggests that repeatedly breathing low oxygen levels for brief periods (termed intermittent hypoxia) is a safe and effective treatment strategy to promote meaningful functional recovery in persons with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). The goal of the study is to understand the mechanisms by which intermittent hypoxia enhances motor function and spinal plasticity (ability of the nervous system to strengthen neural pathways based on new experiences) following SCI.

No pharmaceutical medication involved
Patients and healthy individuals accepted


Participants will breathe intermittent low oxygen via air generators. The generators will fill reservoir bags attached to a non-rebreathing face mask. Oxygen concentration will be continuously monitored to ensure delivery of fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) = 0.10±0.02 (hypoxia). Participants will receive treatment on 5 consecutive days.


30 minutes of walking practice consisting of 5 repetitions of 6-minute walks


30 minutes of isometric ankle plantar flexion torque practice broken into 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Mechanisms of Intermittent Hypoxia-induced Motor Recovery in Persons With SCI