Acute Mountain Sickness among People with Disabilities

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a symptom complex noticed commonly among high altitude travelers. The occurrence of AMS depends on multiple factors that have been studied extensively. However, AMS in individuals with neurological impairments has not been considered in detail. A total of 168 subjects, including active controls, inactive controls, and those with spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), were studied at the National Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado, from 2007 to 2009 for the occurrence of AMS. Lake Louise Score was used to quantify symptoms. A higher than anticipated occurrence of AMS (42.85%) among the study population was noted, with significantly higher Lake Louis Scores among athletes with neurological impairments. Disability group, prior history of AMS, and prior occurrence of headache at high altitude could be used as predictors for the development of AMS symptoms.

This was one of the first publications documenting the increased prevalence of Acute Mountain Sickness among athletes with disabilities.