Effect of pulmonary training for community-dwelling frail older adults with chronic stroke: A randomized controlled pilot trial

J Gen Fam Med. 2021 Nov 30;23(3):140-148. doi: 10.1002/jgf2.511. eCollection 2022 May.


Background: Decreased pulmonary function and poor deglutition are a major risk factor for poststroke aspiration pneumonia. We analyzed the benefits of pulmonary training on pulmonary function, deglutition, and quality of life (QOL) in community-dwelling, frail elderly people with chronic stroke.

Method: This study was designed as an open, randomized, controlled pilot trial. The participants, who were frail older adults with a history of stroke, were randomized to 2 rehabilitation groups: intervention group (n = 15) and control (n = 15). All participants (65-94 years) attended twelve 20-min sessions twice a week for 6 weeks of either standard rehabilitation (control group) or standard rehabilitation with pulmonary training including home pulmonary exercise (intervention group). The main outcome measures were pulmonary function (%MIP), deglutition (DRACE), and QOL (SF8・PCS), while secondary outcomes were muscle strength (grip and abdominal), thorax flexibility, 6-min walk distance, and activities in daily living. All outcomes were measured both prior to training and after the 12 sessions.

Results: The intervention group showed significant improvement in %MIP (95% CI, 2.9-31.6; p < 0.01), DRACE (95% CI, -4.1-0.1; p < 0.01), and SF8・PCS (95% CI, 2.5-7.2; p < 0.01) compared with controls. There were no cognitive function decline and higher brain dysfunction.

Conclusions: These results suggest that the addition of pulmonary training including home pulmonary exercise to a standard rehabilitation program could improve pulmonary function, deglutition, and QOL in frail elderly people with chronic stroke.

Keywords: frailty; older adults; pulmonary rehabilitation; quality of life; respiratory function; stroke; swallowing function.