Does the addition of non-invasive ventilation during pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease augment patient outcome in exercise tolerance? A literature review

Physiother Res Int. 2010 Mar;15(1):5-15. doi: 10.1002/pri.451.


Background: Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) during exercise in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been shown to increase exercise time and intensity. Feasibly then, NIV during pulmonary rehabilitation will enhance post-rehabilitation training effects. The purpose of this review is to systematically consider and critique the literature concerning the effects of NIV, when used during an exercise programme in COPD patients on exercise tolerance.

Method: An electronic literature search was completed and the reference lists of the articles that fitted the following inclusion criteria were screened. Studies that used any mode of NIV during an exercise programme with a primary outcome measure focusing on exercise tolerance and were written after the year 2000 to reflect current practice. Studies that were not written in English or had been included in previous literature reviews were excluded. The studies were then critically appraised and assigned a level of evidence based upon Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.

Results: Twenty-eight articles were screened, of which six fitted the inclusion criteria. The methodological quality ranged from level 1- to 1+. All but one study by Bianchi et al. (2002) demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in exercise tolerance with the addition of some form of NIV during pulmonary rehabilitation. The benefits may be greater in patients with more severe airway obstruction as determined by Forced Expiration Volume (FEV), (%pred).

Conclusion: This review would suggest that NIV may allow an increased exercise intensity and duration during pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with moderate to very severe COPD, (according to the American Thoracic Society guidelines), resulting in a greater training effect and a prolonged exercise capacity. Further research looking at long-term follow-up is recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*