Use of air stacking and abdominal compression for cough assistance in people with complete tetraplegia

R. Torres-Castro, J. Vilaró, R. Vera-Uribe, G. Monge, P. Avilés, C. Suranyi

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Study design:Cross-sectional.Objective:To assess cough using air stacking (AS) to assist inspiratory volume with abdominal compression (AC) during expiration in patients with American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) A.Setting:Large tertiary hospital in Chile.Methods:Peak cough flow (PCF) was measured during four different interventions: spontaneous maximal expiratory effort (MEE); MEE while receiving AC (MEE-AC); MEE after AS with a manual resuscitation bag (AS-MEE); and MEE with AS and AC (AS-MEE-AC).Results:Fifteen in-patients with complete tetraplegia (C4-C6) were included. Median age was 33 years (16-56). PCF during the different interventions was PCF for MEE was 183±90 l min -1; PCF for MEE-AC was 273±119 l min -1; PCF for AS-MEE was 278±106 l min -1 and PCF for AS-MEE-AC was 368±129 l min -1. We observed significant differences in PCF while applying MEE-AC and AS-MEE compared with MEE (P=0.0001). However, the difference in PCF value was greater using the AS-MEE-AC technique (P=0.00001).Conclusion:Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) presented an ineffective cough that constitutes a risk factor for developing respiratory complications. The application of combined techniques (AS-MEE-AC) can reach near normal PCF values. This is a low-cost, simple and easily applied intervention that could be introduced to all patients with tetraplegia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-357
Number of pages4
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • abdominal compression
  • air stacking
  • cough
  • peak cough flow
  • spinal cord injury


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