–   JUNE 2022   –

Why do you need a neuro-respiratory physiotherapist if you have a spinal injury?


For anyone with a spinal cord injury, it’s very common to also experience respiratory complications. This is because a spinal cord injury often results in respiratory muscle weakness. A spinal injury can put strain on the chest wall, rib cage, abdominal muscles and diaphragm, which ultimately impacts breathing. Depending on which part of the spine is damaged, be it the neck, middle or lower back, this determines how breathing is compromised. 

As a result, weakness in this area can lead to trouble coughing and taking deep enough breaths. Extended periods of shallow breathing can lead to areas within the lungs collapsing, and greater risk of chest infection, pneumonia, accidentally choking, contracting the flu or COVID, or developing a respiratory tract infection – all of which could result in needing to be hospitalised. 

It is therefore crucial that the physiotherapist working with someone with a spinal cord injury pays close attention to both the neurological and respiratory systems. This requires specialist expertise and equipment to be able to identify and monitor internal weaknesses to the respiratory system. 

At Active Edge Physio, our neuro-respiratory physiotherapists have specialised equipment to thoroughly assess if the respiratory system has been compromised after a spinal injury. Following the assessment, we have a variety of interventions to implement, and skilfully identify exactly which combination of interventions will best meet an individual’s unique needs. A respiratory specialist or a neuro specialist is not going to be able to provide this level of care. It is also unusual to find a specialist neuro-respiratory physiotherapist.

If you need a neuro-respiratory physiotherapist in Melbourne, please book a free 15-minute consultation with our team here at Active Edge Physio. Alternatively, complete the referral form online and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours (on week days) to explore the best way forward.