Respiratory strength training after stroke
Respiratory muscle weakness is common after stroke and is associated with activity limitation and respiratory complications. Studies of people who have had a stroke report that their inspiratory muscles can generate between 17 to 57 cmH2O pressure - much less than the ~100 cmH2O pressure in healthy adults. Similarly, the expiratory muscles can generate 25 to 68 cmH2O pressure, compared with ~120 cmH2O in healthy adults.
Various randomised clinical trials have assessed whether respiratory muscle training increases inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength and reduces the risk of respiratory complications. These studies have sometimes had conflicting results. A recent systematic review and statistical pooling of these studies by a group of physiotherapists in Australia and Brazil has shown that respiratory muscle training increases inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength and reduces the risk of respiratory complications.
Despite the marked reduction in respiratory complications, the improvement in respiratory muscle strength was only around 10cmH2O. This suggests that the benefit might arise from an improvement in endurance, which did improve markedly, but was only measured in one study. On top of that, the authors marked it remains uncertain whether the benefits carry over to benefits in activity and participation.
Want to read deeper into this topic? Have a look at the free full text version of this article published in Journal of Physiotherapy!
> From: Menezes et al., J Physiother 62 (2016) 138-144. All rights reserved to the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the Pubmed summary.