Living With a Spinal Cord Injury (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Breathing is usually an unconscious act: we do it without knowing it. But a spinal cord injury (SCI) may result in your not being able to use some of the muscles needed for breathing. This makes it hard to breathe, cough, and bring up mucus from the lungs, which leads to a greater risk of lung infections such as pneumonia.
How your breathing muscles are affected and what it means to your ability to breathe depends on which part of your spine was injured. People with injuries lower on the spinal cord (below T12) usually do not lose control of these muscles and have no trouble breathing. People with SCIs high on the neck may need a ventilator. People with injuries between these levels have a partial loss of the breathing muscles but can usually still breathe on their own.
Things you can do to help prevent lung problems include:
Things you can do that are not directly related to your lungs include:
Choking is a danger if you have an SCI, because the usual cough mechanism may not be strong enough to bring up the item that is choking you. If choking occurs, your caregiver should:
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