Study objective: To examine the effects of targeted inspiratory muscle training on respiratory muscle function, clinical ratings of dyspnea, and perception of resistive loads in symptomatic patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Design: Randomized, placebo-controlled trial with an 8-week treatment period.
Setting: Outpatient pulmonary clinic and pulmonary function laboratory.
Participants: We studied 19 patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, assigning 10 patients to an experimental group and 9 to a control group.
Interventions: Patients in both groups trained for 15 minutes twice each day using a device that provided breath-to-breath visual feedback of training intensity. Patients in the experimental group trained at six increasing levels of inspiratory resistance, whereas the patients in the control group trained at a constant, nominal level of resistance.
Measurements and results: Although there was no statistically discernible difference in the effects of targeted muscle training on the mean difference in maximal inspiratory pressures between the two groups (9.83 cm H2O; 95% CI, -7.37 to 27.03), patients in the experimental group did show a significant increase in inspiratory muscle strength (15.03 cm H2O; P = 0.01). Experimental subjects also had decreased dyspnea after 8 weeks of training compared with control subjects (P = 0.003). Improvements in physiologic values and in dyspnea ratings were correlated. The perception of added resistive loads was not affected by inspiratory muscle training.
Conclusions: Targeted inspiratory muscle training may enhance respiratory muscle function and reduce dyspnea in symptomatic patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.