Effects of pulmonary rehabilitation program on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

NeuroRehabilitation. 2021;48(3):255-265. doi: 10.3233/NRE-210052.


Background: Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) develop respiratory failure and progressive muscle weakness. The effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on the lung function of patients with ALS are unclear.

Objective: Through this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), we evaluated the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation, such as type of treatment, on patients with ALS and compared the effectiveness of this treatment.

Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases were searched until December 2020. The methodological quality of each study was assessed using the updated Cochrane Risk of Bias tool (RoB 2.0). Data were analyzed using Review Manager version 5.4 (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, England), and the meta-analysis was performed in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines.

Results: Of 2168 articles, 10 trials were reviewed; among these trials, two focused on respiratory training and eight on physical exercise, three of which involved a combination of aerobic and resistance training. Our meta-analysis demonstrated no difference in the ALSFRS-R score and % FVC among patients with ALS.

Conclusions: Respiratory training or physical exercise did not significantly affect the ALSFRS-R score and % FVC of patients with ALS. At 12 months after intervention, the ALSFRS-R score in the physical exercise group was higher than that in the usual care group. Further clinical trials are warranted to develop approaches for improving the lung function of patients with ALS.

Keywords: Rehabilitation; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; physical exercise; respiratory training.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Respiration*