Atlanta, GA,
11:54 AM

Sleep Apnea Common Among People with Spinal Cord Injury, says Shepherd Center Pulmonologist

Sleep apnea is common among people with spinal cord injury, according to a small new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Researchers report that three-fourths, or 20, of the 26 people with spinal cord injury who participated in the study have sleep-disordered breathing, and nearly all of them experience poor sleep quality. The study results may lead to potential targets for new treatments.

“We have known for a while that there is a high incidence of sleep apnea among people with spinal cord injury, especially those with quadriplegia,” says Andrew Zadoff, M.D., a pulmonologist at Atlanta Pulmonary Associates and medical director of respiratory and critical care services at Shepherd Center. “We see a fair amount of sleep apnea among our patients with brain injury, as well.”

Dr. Zadoff and his colleague David DeRuyter, M.D., also an Atlanta Pulmonary Associates pulmonologist and associate director of critical care services at Shepherd Center, typically look for and address sleep disorders when patients are undergoing rehabilitation. The most common treatment is the nighttime use of CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, which is administered through a device that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open.

People living with spinal cord or brain injury who suspect they may have a sleep disorder should see their primary care physician, a pulmonologist, neurologist or ENT for diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Zadoff says. He cautions these patients about the use of sleep medications, which could worsen sleep apnea.

For more information about the study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, see the Huffington Post article posted here.

Also, an abstract of the study is available here.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.