A small study of people with spinal cord injuries shows that sleep apnea is a common side effect of these types of injuries. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The study’s findings show that 77 percent of people with a spinal cord injury have sleep disordered breathing. In addition, 92 percent complained of having poor sleep quality. The study included a mixture of people with cervical injuries and thoracic injuries.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airways of the throat are blocked during sleep, and is the most common type of apnea found in adults. Central sleep apnea is caused by problems in the transmission of signals between the brain and the muscles that control breathing. The study found both types of apnea in spinal cord injury patients.

By Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT