BREATHE: The Spinal cord injury, Mind and HeART (SMART) Study

BREATHE: The Spinal cord injury, Mind and HeART (SMART) Study

A clinical trial, funded through the $15m NSW Government grants offered as a result of SpinalCure’s call for funding of spinal cord injury research, is now looking for volunteers.

How we breathe influences many aspects of health and wellbeing. Ancient traditions such as yoga and qi gong use regulated breathing techniques to achieve tranquillity of the mind. We now know that the way we breathe can regulate our nervous system. But how does regulated breathing affect people with a disrupted nervous system, like those living with spinal cord injury? To explore this issue, researchers at The University of Sydney have set up the SMART (Spinal cord injury, Mind and HeART) study to train people with spinal cord injury to regulate their breathing and assess how this influences issues like blood pressure regulation, chronic pain, mood dysregulation, and fatigue.

Participation in this study is voluntary and free of charge. Participants will be randomly allocated using a computer software into one of the two treatment groups. Group 1 will receive a 10-week specialised program and Group 2 will continue to receive their usual care in the community.

The SMART study will determine whether regulated breathing practice can improve the functioning of the nervous system in the long-term. These health outcomes will naturally require practice, similar to any exercise program. For example, the more you practise building up strength in your arm muscles, the stronger and easier it is to lift a particular weight. By practising regulated breathing, you are exercising the receptors of the heart and balancing that part of the nervous system, called the autonomic nervous system, that help us regulate blood pressure and recover from stress and postural change. This may lead to less fatigue and dizziness, increased endurance, and performance.

The study will involve the attendance of 6 face-to-face sessions at Royal North Shore Hospital and 4 online/phone call sessions. These sessions will involve breathing exercises and techniques for remaining focused under demanding situations.

If you are over 18 years of age with a spinal cord injury (for more than 12 months) and are interested in being a participant in this study, or would like to know more, please contact the team:

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: 0420 378 157

Barcode: scan the barcode from your smart phone, fill a 30 second form and one of the research team members will contact you.