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Clinical Trial

Effect of a Novel Intervention Using Daily Intermittent Hypoxia and High Intensity Training on Upper Limb Function in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

IRB Protocol Number STU00206035


Kelly Breen (Coordinator) | (312) 238-1350 office


The overall objective of this project is to investigate the effectiveness of acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) therapy, either alone or coupled with task-specific training, to improve upper extremity function in individuals with chronic cervical spinal cord injuries (SCI).

This study proposes the examine the effects of breathing mild bouts of lower oxygen in combination with upper extremity training, over the course of a month, to evaluate changes in upper extremity function, dexterity, and ability to complete activities of daily living. The use of acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) has been demonstrated, to be an effective way of increasing spinal motor excitability and strengthening residual synaptic connectivity. AIH utilizes short duration (<2 min) exposures to reduced oxygen levels (~10% inspired oxygen), with alternating exposures to air with normal oxygen levels (~21% inspired oxygen).



Who Can Participate

Adult patients 6 months post-spinal cord injury that is non progressive in nature. Ability to open and close at least one hand using either the muscles of the hand or an upward wrist movement (tenodesis grasp)

  • History of spinal cord injury between the levels of C2-T1
  • At least 1 year post injury.
  • No history of breathing or heart problems.
  • Not currently participating in another research study.


If you agree to take part in this research study, we will pay you the following for for your time and effort:

  • $40 for the initial screening visit (anticipated to last up to 3 hours).
  • $40 for baseline testing, and each follow up testing session. These sessions are anticipated to last up to 4 hours.
  • $40 for both the intervention visit involving AIH or Sham AIH session alone (total anticipated time about 1 hour), and $40 for each session involving AIH + training or Sham AIH + training (total time less than 3 hours).
  • Participants will be compensated an additional $10/hour, if the session lasts greater than 4 hours. If a subject travels greater than 20 miles from the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (based on their home address), then they will be provided an addition $20/visit, to assist with extra cost associated with travel.


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