A recent study conducted at Emory University’s Center for Rehabilitation Medicine showed that short periods of breathing low oxygen levels can help patients with incomplete spinal-cord injuries walk better. The research included people with no joint shortening; some controlled ankle, knee and hip movements; and the ability to walk at least one step without human assistance.
Each of the participants was exposed to short periods of low-oxygen breathing (hypoxia). They breathed through a mask for about 40 minutes a day for 5 days, receiving 90-second periods of low oxygen levels followed by 60 seconds of normal oxygen levels. The participants were tested several times during the treatment and at one and two weeks post-treatment. Each participant improved their walking speed and endurance.
An editorial accompanying the study, published in Neurology, speculates that the low-oxygen treatment triggers spinal serotonin to induce protein changes that help restore spinal-cord connections.
For more information, read here: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2013/12/new_treatment_for_spine_injuries/