Baclofen-induced cough suppression in cervical spinal cord injury cord injury

Peter V. Dicpinigaitis, David R. Grimm, Marvin Lesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the effect of the GABA-agonist baclofen on cough reflex sensitivity in subjects with cervical spinal cord injury (C-SCI). Baclofen has been shown to inhibit the cough reflex in able-bodied volunteers. Design: Prospective, nonrandomized control trial. Setting: Veterans Affairs medical center with large outpatient SCI population. Participants: Twelve adult males (11 outpatients) with C-SCI chronically maintained on oral baclofen for the treatment of muscle spasm. Intervention: Subjects underwent cough challenge testing with inhaled capsaicin. The concentrations (μM) of capsaicin inducing 2 or more (C2) and 5 or more (C5) coughs were determined. Mean values for log C2 and log C5 were compared with a control group of outpatients with C-SCI not receiving baclofen. Results: Subjects treated with baclofen had a significantly higher cough threshold (diminished cough reflex sensitivity) than control subjects. Mean (± standard error of the mean) values for log C2 in study subjects and controls were 1.28 ±. 16 and .65 ± .15, respectively (p = .009). Mean values for log C5 in subjects receiving baclofen and in control subjects were 2.20 ± .22 and 1.43 ± .23, respectively (p = .024). Subjects and controls did not differ in terms of age, spirometric parameters, or duration of injury. Conclusions: The results suggest that chronic therapy with baclofen diminishes cough reflex sensitivity in subjects with C-SCI. The clinical significance of this finding remains to be elucidated. (C) 2000 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-923
Number of pages3
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2000


  • Baclofen
  • Capsaicin
  • Cough
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tetraplegia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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