Specific inspiratory muscle training is safe in selected patients who are ventilator-dependent: a case series

Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2012 Apr;28(2):98-104. doi: 10.1016/j.iccn.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


Background: Mechanical ventilation of intensive care patients results in inspiratory muscle weakness. Inspiratory muscle training may be useful, but no studies have specifically described the physiological response to training.

Research questions: Is inspiratory muscle training with a threshold device safe in selected ventilator-dependent patients? Does inspiratory muscle strength increase with high-intensity inspiratory muscle training in ventilator-dependent patients?

Design: Prospective cohort study of 10 medically stable ventilator-dependent adult patients.

Setting: Tertiary adult intensive care unit.

Methods: Inspiratory muscle training 5-6 days per week with a threshold device attached to the tracheostomy without supplemental oxygen.

Outcome measures: Physiological response to training (heart rate, mean arterial pressure, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate), adverse events, training pressures.

Results: No adverse events were recorded in 195 sessions studied. For each patient's second training session, no significant changes in heart rate (Mean Difference 1.3 bpm, 95% CI -2.7 to 5.3), mean arterial pressure (Mean Difference -0.9 mmHg, 95% CI -6.4 to 4.6), respiratory rate (Mean Difference 1.2 bpm, 95% CI -1.1 to 3.5 bpm) or oxygen saturation (Mean Difference 1.2%, 95% CI -0.6 to 3.0) were detected Training pressures increased significantly (Mean Difference 18.6 cmH(2)O, 95% CI 11.8-25.3).

Conclusion: Threshold-based inspiratory muscle training can be delivered safely in selected ventilator-dependent patients without supplemental oxygen. Inspiratory muscle training is associated with increased muscle strength, which may assist ventilatory weaning.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breathing Exercises* / adverse effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*
  • Young Adult