Does adding an integrated physical therapy and neuromuscular electrical stimulation therapy to standard rehabilitation improve functional outcome in elderly patients with pneumonia? A randomised controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2019 Nov;33(11):1757-1766. doi: 10.1177/0269215519859930. Epub 2019 Jun 27.


Objective: To compare the effects of an integrated programme of physical and electrical therapy to standard rehabilitation to improve physical and functional performance in elderly patients with pneumonia.

Design: Randomized clinical trial. The study was registered in the website (identifier: NCT02515565).

Setting: University Hospital.

Subjects: In total, 185 elderly patients with pneumonia were eligible for the study, of which 95 were finally randomized.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to a control group which received the standard treatment or to an intervention group which received additionally an integrated programme of physical and electrical therapy.

Main measures: Demographic and clinical information was acquired. Pulmonary function, length of hospital stay, handgrip strength, independence levels and comorbidities were assessed as descriptive outcomes. The main outcome measure was functional and physical performance, evaluated with the short physical performance battery. Secondary outcome measures were respiratory symptoms including dyspnoea, fatigue and cough.

Results: Mean age of patients was 74.92 (11.03) years in the intervention group and 72.53 (9.24) years in the control group. Significant between groups differences (P < 0.05) were found in short physical performance battery chair stand test (2.17 (0.97) vs. 0.58 (0.61)) and total score (5.91 (3.61) vs. 4.15 (3.15)). The intervention group showed better performance than the control group in both cases. Fatigue (32.04 (18.58) vs. 46.22 (8.90)) and cough (18.84 (2.47) vs. 17.40 (3.67)) showed higher improvement in the intervention group, and significant differences were observed between the groups.

Conclusion: An integrated programme of physical and electrical therapy during hospitalization improves physical and functional performance in patients with pneumonia.

Keywords: Pneumonia; hospitalization; neuromuscular electrical stimulation; physical therapy; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Cough / therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Functional Performance
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pneumonia / therapy*

Associated data