Breathing is a complex motor task that needs to be coordinated at all times while we eat, speak, exercise and even during sleep. The breathing muscles are controlled automatically from the brainstem during normal breathing but can also be controlled voluntarily from the motor cortex.
The way these two drives to the breathing muscles interact is still not well understood. While there is some evidence that there are at least two independent pathways, and that integration of the pathways occurs at the spinal cord, there is some uncertainty about whether these pathways may have some interaction in the brainstem.
Our overall goal is to determine the role of neural drive in impairments of respiratory muscle function in older adults (over 65 years), people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), spinal injury or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
In trying to understand the yet unknown causes about why older people fall over, we looked at fatigue. It is an ideal candidate. Firstly, fatigue is a common complaint for older people; more than 50 percent of people aged 70+ report fatigue in their daily activities. Secondly, fatigue affects sensory and movement functions that are associated with falling, such as […]