Respiratory muscle training on pulmonary and swallowing function in patients with Huntington's disease: a pilot randomised controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2015 Oct;29(10):961-73. doi: 10.1177/0269215514564087. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Objective: To examine the effects of 4-month of respiratory muscle training on pulmonary and swallowing function, exercise capacity and dyspnoea in manifest patients with Huntington's disease.

Design: A pilot randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Home based training program.

Participants: Eighteen manifest Huntington's disease patients with a positive genetic test and clinically verified disease expression, were randomly assigned to control group (n=9) and training group (n=9).

Intervention: Both groups received home-based inspiratory (5 sets of 5 repetitions) and expiratory (5 sets of 5 repetitions) muscle training 6 times a week for 4 months. The control group used a fixed resistance of 9 centimeters of water, and the training group used a progressively increased resistance from 30% to 75% of each patient's maximum respiratory pressure.

Main measures: Spirometric indices, maximum inspiratory pressure, maximum expiratory pressure, six minutes walk test, dyspnoea, water-swallowing test and swallow quality of life questionnaire were assessed before, at 2 and 4 months after training.

Results: The magnitude of increases in maximum inspiratory (d=2.9) and expiratory pressures (d=1.5), forced vital capacity (d=0.8), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (d=0.9) and peak expiratory flow (d=0.8) was substantially greater for the training group in comparison to the control group. Changes in swallowing function, dyspnoea and exercise capacity were small (d ≤ 0.5) for both groups without substantial differences between groups.

Conclusions: A home-based respiratory muscle training program appeared to be beneficial to improve pulmonary function in manifest Huntington's disease patients but provided small effects on swallowing function, dyspnoea and exercise capacity.

Keywords: Huntington’s disease; Respiratory function; dysphagia; pulmonary rehabilitation; swallowing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises / methods*
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / complications
  • Huntington Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Spirometry
  • Western Australia