Acute Intermittent Hypoxia and Breathing in Neuromuscular Disease (AIH in ALS)


Most ALS patients survive less than 5 years after diagnosis, and the main cause of death is respiratory failure. The investigators are interested in the therapeutic potential of acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) for individuals with neuromuscular diseases, such as ALS. More than two decades of research indicates AIH elicits meaningful respiratory and non-respiratory motor recovery. Acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) consists of alternating periods of breathing mildly hypoxic (lowered oxygen concentration) and normoxic (normal oxygen concentration) air.

The investigators propose to study mechanisms of respiratory plasticity associated with a single presentation of mild AIH. The fundamental hypothesis guiding this proposal is that even a single AIH trial improves respiratory (and non-respiratory) motor function in ALS patients procedure. Participants will then be asked to breathe air with reduced oxygen for short periods of time, for a duration of 45 minutes. The activity of your muscles and your heart function will be monitored throughout the procedure.

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  • Participants will complete a single 45 minute session of acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH), as well as, the 45 minute sham AIH session, consisting of breathing air with normal oxygen levels. Breathing, muscle activity and heart activity will be monitored before, during and after both procedures.
  • Both health control volunteers and ALS patients will complete the procedure above

For more details about study procedures, please contact Jessica Ehrbar:


  • A healthy adult OR clinical diagnosis of ALS
  • Baseline FVC >50% predicted for age, sex and height.

Additional eligibility criteria apply, please contact Jessica Ehrbar:


18 to 65
65 and over



Can be done from home



Neurology, ALS, ALS - resources, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Principal Investigator

Barbara Smith, PT, PhD



Contact Information


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