Background: Because respiratory muscle function plays a strong role in exercise capacity and cardiopulmonary response to exercise, systematic training and measurement of respiratory muscle function should be considered in stroke patients. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an individualized respiratory muscle training device combined with conventional physical therapy exercise can improve the pulmonary function and exercise capacity of stroke patients.
Material and methods: Twenty stroke patients were randomly assigned to an exercise group (n=10) or a control group (n=10). Over 4 weeks, each group participated in exercise training interventions 3 times per week. In each session, the control group received basic exercise treatments for 30 min, followed by an automated full-body workout for 20 min. The exercise group performed the same exercise regimen as the control group, as well as an additional respiratory muscle training regimen using a respiratory exercise device for 20 min.
Results: Pulmonary function of forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume at 1 s (FEV1), FEV1/FVC, and peak expiratory flow (PEF) and exercise capacity of a 6-min walking test and Shortness of Breath Modified Borg Dyspnea Scale (SBMBDS) scores were assessed before and after the training. A significant intergroup difference was observed in the FVC, FEV1, PEF, 6MWT, and SBMBDS scores (p<0.05).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that exercise of the respiratory muscles using an individualized respiratory device had a positive effect on pulmonary function and exercise capacity and may be used for breathing rehabilitation in stroke patients.