Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of a specific inspiratory muscle training in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Patients and methods: Fifteen patients with DMD started 6 months of training the inspiratory muscles and 15 patients served as a control group. Pulmonary and inspiratory muscle function parameters were assessed 3 months before and at the beginning of training, in the first and third month of training, at the end, and 6 months after its cessation. Maximal sniff assessed esophageal and transdiaphragmatic pressure values served as indices for global inspiratory muscle strength and diaphragmatic strength, respectively. Inspiratory muscle endurance was assessed by the length of time a certain inspiratory task could be maintained.
Results: In 10 of the 15 patients, respiratory muscle function parameters improved significantly after 1 month of training. Further improvements were to be seen after 3 and after 6 months. Even 6 months after the end of training, those effects remained to a large extent. In the other five patients, there was no such improvement after 1 month of training, which was therefore discontinued. All these five patients had vital capacity values of less than 25 percent predicted and/or PaCO2 values of more than 45 mm Hg. The 15 control patients had no significant change in their respiratory muscle function parameters.
Conclusion: We conclude that a specific inspiratory muscle training is useful in the early stage of DMD.