Deep breathing exercises are very important after a spinal cord injury or any injury that makes the breathing muscles weak. Stronger breathing muscles help keep the air sacs in the lungs open as well as help prevent pneumonia.
One way to do these exercises is to use a device called an incentive spirometer (IS). The incentive spirometer is a breathing device that helps prevent congestion in the lungs by making you take deep breaths. It also helps to make your breathing muscles stronger so they work better. It can be used by any person who has weak breathing muscles, and especially in spinal cord injuries from C3 – T12.
How Do You Use the Incentive Spirometer?
Deep breathing exercises are very easy to do. They should be done at least twice a day (in the morning and at night). It is best to do this sitting up if possible. Follow the steps listed below.
Step 1: Set the spirometer by adjusting the lever in the center of the device. Set it to the number that your therapist has stated.
Step 2: Exhale (breathe out) then put the mouthpiece in your mouth.
Step 3: Take in the deepest breath that you can through the mouthpiece and hold it for 3 seconds. Remove it from your mouth.
Step 4: Let out the breath. Do not breathe into the mouthpiece.
Try to keep the "coach" button in the "happy face range" or if you are using another brand, keep it in the "better" range.
Step 5: Repeat this for 10 breaths.
Try to reach the goal set for you by your respiratory therapist. Raise your setting as tolerated. Do not get discouraged if you cannot reach your goal. Do the best that you can. The important thing is that you are trying and the exercises are still helping your lungs. Continue to do the exercises on a regular basis to keep he breathing muscles strong.
Breathing Exercises You Can Do When You Have a Cold
Breathing exercises are especially important to do when you have a cold. They may help prevent the cold from getting worse.
Five Breathing Exercises
- Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before slowly breathing out.
- Take a deep breath, bringing in as much air as you can as fast as you can before pushing the air out as fast as you can.
- Take a deep breath and hold it, take another breath and hold it, and take one more before slowly breathing out.
- Take a deep breath in then breathe out, counting as long and as fast as you can.
If you have an incentive spirometer, use it for both exercises and keep a record of your progress.