A pilot study exploring the potential for Wim Hof Method practice to help relieve symptoms and quality of life for people suffering from spinal cord injury was conducted in collaboration with Reade— an expertise center for rehabilitation and rheumatology in Amsterdam.
For people who suffer from spinal cord injury, the signals that normally go from and to the brain have been disrupted, upending regular physiological processes. This goes beyond strict paralysis; hormonal signals — such as if you’re feeling cold or hungry — are also affected. Symptoms include loss of bladder and intestinal control, pain, a disrupted immune system, chronic inflammation, and breathing and sleeping problems. Not fun.
All of these can be traced back to a compromised autonomic nervous system, and since Wim Hof Method practice improves autonomic nervous control, there is big potential for breathing and cold intervention to improve the lives of people dealing with spinal cord injury.
To get a sense of just how much the WHM might help, researchers from Reade invited a bunch of people with spinal cord injury, to practice Wim Hof Method breathing for a period of four weeks. They were tested on various parameters, such as lung capacity, blood pressure, sleep, energy levels, and mood, before and after the trial phase.
The results were remarkable: the trial participants reported an increase in mood, more energy, and fewer spasms. Measurements further showed that their lung capacity had improved. The majority of participants were so happy with the effects that they continued to practice the method after conclusion of the study.
The results are so promising that Reade is now following this pilot study up with a randomized controlled trial, to cement their findings and solidify the Wim Hof Method as an effective practice against spinal cord injury symptoms. In this new full-fledged study, sixty individuals will be tested on a variety of health markers, including inflammation, lung function, sleep quality, stress, and pain.
Breathing and cold therapy are not yet part of standard rehabilitation programs, but with these amazing results, that may very well change in the future.
Update: there was a small error in the original publication, where we stated that the pilot study had a control group. This was not the case. Only the current randomized controlled trial has a control group. The error has been amended. Our apologies and thank you for reading!