CIBA Foundation Symposium on Pulmonary Structure and Function

By A. V. S. De Reuck; Maeve O'Connor | Go to book overview

PROPRIOCEPTIVE CONTROL OF BREATHING

E. J. M. CAMPBELL, and J. B. L. HoWELL Departments of Medicine, Middlesex Hospital, London, and Royal Infirmary, Manchester

THERE are many isolated observations suggesting that proprioceptive afferents from the chest wall and muscles have something to do with breathing. It is a common courtesy in most accounts of respiratory control to give them a nod of acknowledgement, while lavishing attention on pulmonary vagal afferents.

We hope to persuade you to take the non-pulmonary proprioceptive control of breathing more seriously. First we will describe briefly some experiments which suggest the rôle it plays in breathing. Then we will review briefly the properties of the most eligible among the nervous structures in the chest wall and muscles. Finally we will indicate how proprioceptive mechanisms may operate in respiratory control. Our ideas in this field stray from well-cultivated patches of proof to the more hazardous thickets of speculation. We do not apologize for this trespass. The experimental evidence is chiefly drawn from studies of respiratory sensation and the response of man to sudden added mechanical respiratory loads. Much of the experimental work has been published so this account will be limited to explaining the principles and summarizing the results.


Respiratory sensation

The inspiratory muscles are opposed by mechanical loads of several kinds, which are most conveniently grouped as elastic and non-elastic or resistive. The elastic load is due chiefly to the elastic properties of the lungs and the surface tension of the fluids lining

-29-

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