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Patients living with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) face numerous hurdles to accessing high-quality care for sleep disorders, from inadequate recognition of sleep health among patients with SCI/D and their providers, to erroneous attribution of daytime symptoms, limited access to sleep diagnostic services and difficulties using medical devices needed to treat sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). The treatment of choice for SDB is positive airway pressure (PAP), which improves sleep quality, metabolic function and quality of life while reducing sleepiness in able-bodied adults. For example, the Apnea Positive Pressure Long-term Efficacy Study (APPLES) trial,1 which recruited from both sleep clinics and the general population, demonstrated that PAP therapy was associated with significant improvement in subjectively and objectively measured sleepiness, but without a significant impact on short-term or long-term cognitive function. Even in able-bodied adults with SDB, adherence to PAP remains a major challenge that requires individualised and intensive education, monitoring and support. There is evidence that patients with SCI/D are less adherent to PAP therapy than able-bodied individuals.2 Reasons for poor adherence include mobility impairment to adjust the mask, increased awakenings due to autonomic dysfunction, nasal congestion, inadequate support and inconvenience due to the presence of other comorbidities.3
SDB in patients with SCI/D combines features of obstructive and central SDB. For example, increased upper airway collapsibility is noted in all patients with SCI4 and the use of opioid analgesics may increase the risk of central SDB. In addition, …
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