Why it feels easier to breathe when wearing an abdominal binder or lying down

Some interesting anatomy[edit]

The main muscle responsible for breathing is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is powered by the nerves from the levels of C3,4 and 5.

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When the diaphragm contracts, it moves down allowing air to be drawn into the lungs and as it relaxes it moves upward causing air to be passively breathed out. The diaphragm functions most effectively when it is sitting high up in the rib cage at the start of a breath in so that it is able to contract it's fibres along their length. In a person with quadriplegia who has paralysed stomach muscles, the diaphragm will rest at a lower level in sitting causing it to function inefficiently unless the abdomen is held in by an abdominal binder. Your physiotherapist may fit you with a binder to prevent shortness of breath when sitting. Some body types don't benefit from wearing a binder, your physio will give you personalised advice about your own situation.

What are some of the benefits of wearing an abdominal binder?[edit]

  • Decreased dizziness in sitting
  • A louder voice in sitting
  • A stronger cough
  • Added postural stability when seated

When can I stop wearing an abdo binder?[edit]

Research shows that most people with quadriplegia will benefit from wearing an abdo binder whenever they sit up, even many years after their injury. The benefits of wearing a binder tend to be more noticeable for people who are tall and skinny and less noticeable for those who have a more stocky build. Ask your physio for personalised advice and testing to see whether you will benefit from wearing a binder.