Effects of Abdominal Trussing on Breathing and Speech in Men with Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Peter J. Watson, Thomas J. Hixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Abdominal trussing constitutes an inward fixation of the abdominal wall. In the context of speech habilitation/rehabilitation, it is sometimes used to supplant, in part, the function of a paralyzed or paretic abdominal wall. A paralyzed or paretic abdominal wall may be found in individuals with cervical spinal cord injury or in individuals with other neurologic disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. This research was designed to study the effects of trussing as a clinical treatment. A study was designed to systematically and precisely place the abdominal wall at one position (50% inward) to study the effects of trussing (as compared to an untrussed condition) on lung volume and oral reading in three men with cervical spinal cord injury (C5-C6). Results showed that abdominal trussing increased vital capacity, realized via an increase of inspiratory capacity, presumably by optimization of the function of the diaphragm. With the increase in inspiratory capacity, longer utterance duration for oral reading was observed. With increased utterance duration, more syllables were produced per utterance, and pauses occurred at appropriate linguistic locations. Oral reading samples for trussed and untrussed conditions were submitted to preference judgment by a group of 10 judges. For two of the three men studied, oral reading during trussing was preferred because of longer phrases and pauses taken at suitable linguistic boundaries. The findings from this study support clinical impressions that abdominal trussing may be useful in improving speech in individuals with a paralyzed or paretic abdomen whose breathing function for speech is diminished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-762
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 2001


  • Abdominal trussing
  • Cervical spinal cord injury
  • Intervention


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