Effects of Respiratory Muscle Training on Respiratory Function, Respiratory Muscle Strength, and Exercise Tolerance in Patients Poststroke: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Nov;97(11):1994-2001. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.04.018. Epub 2016 May 20.


Objective: To examine the effects of respiratory muscle training on respiratory function, respiratory muscle strength, and exercise tolerance in patients poststroke.

Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Embase, SciELO, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), and CINAHL (from the earliest date available to November 2015) for trials.

Study selection: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of respiratory muscle training versus nonrespiratory muscle training in patients poststroke. Two reviewers selected studies independently.

Data extraction: Extracted data from the published RCTs. Study quality was evaluated using the PEDro Scale. Weighted mean differences (WMDs), standard mean differences (SMDs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Data synthesis: Eight studies met the study criteria. Respiratory muscle training improved maximal inspiratory pressure WMDs (7.5; 95% CI, 2.7-12.4), forced vital capacity SMDs (2.0; 95% CI, 0.6-3.4), forced expiratory volume at 1 second SMDs (1.2; 95% CI, 0.6-1.9), and exercise tolerance SMDs (0.7; 95% CI, 0.2-1.2). No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusions: Respiratory muscle training should be considered an effective method of improving respiratory function, inspiratory muscle strength, and exercise tolerance in patients poststroke. Further research is needed to determine optimum dosages and duration of effect.

Keywords: Exercise; Rehabilitation; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breathing Exercises / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*