A potential widespread and important role for sleep-disordered breathing in pressure injury development and delayed healing among those with spinal cord injury

Abstract

Soft tissue pressure injuries commonly occur in those with spinal cord injury. They add an immeasurable medical, emotional, and social burden to those who suffer a spinal cord injury and ultimately can cause death due to sepsis when they ulcerate and become infected. Hence it is notable that (i) obstructive sleep apnea and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing are highly prevalent among those with spinal cord injury; (ii) several of the pathophysiologic consequences of sleep-disordered breathing, including hypoxemia, ischemia, oxidative stress, and endothelial dysfunction, would be expected to increase susceptibility to pressure injuries, worsen their severity, and slow or prevent their healing; and (iii) there is emerging clinical evidence that sleep-disordered breathing can have a significant role in the pathogenesis of other types of chronic wounds and that treatment of sleep-disordered breathing can aid in the healing of these wounds. These findings raise the possibility that sleep-disordered breathing may have a widespread and important role in the development, severity, and persistence of pressure injuries in those with spinal cord injury and that treatment of sleep-disordered breathing may be an effective adjunct in their prevention and healing. Studies to determine if there is a functional relationship between sleep-disordered breathing and pressure injuries in individuals with spinal cord injury are warranted.

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SJW conceived the work; SJW and SXC drafted and revised the paper, approved the final version and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

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Correspondence to Steven J. Weintraub.

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Weintraub, S.J., Chen, S.X. A potential widespread and important role for sleep-disordered breathing in pressure injury development and delayed healing among those with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 58, 626–629 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41393-020-0434-6

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