School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine


Breathing Research Related to Spinal Cord Injuries

After 20 years of research with animal models of cervical spinal cord injury the laboratory of Dr. Harry Goshgarian has discovered alternate pathways connecting the breathing cells in the brain with the spinal cord cells that control the breathing muscles.

Techniques were discovered using the drug theophylline, to significantly improve respiratory muscle function in an animal model after cervical spinal cord injury.

We took the knowledge that was acquired through animal research and developed a way to test the effectiveness of theophylline on treating respiratory muscle weakness in humans who have suffered from cervical spinal cord injuries.

The first study designed was carried out in 1998 as a case study in one patient who had been injured more than 20 years prior to the study. Her improvement after taking Theophylline ranged from 20 percent to 171 percent.

Based on the positive results of the first study, a second and more ambitious study is currently underway. We are looking at the effects of Theophylline on the breathing capacity of a larger number of cervical spinal cord injured individuals. Through this work we hope to find a good treatment option for those suffering from breathing problems related to their injury.

We hope this site will answer the questions you have about the research we have done and we're planning on persuing on alternative breathing pathways.