Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 97, ISSUE 11, P1994-2001, November 2016

Effects of Respiratory Muscle Training on Respiratory Function, Respiratory Muscle Strength, and Exercise Tolerance in Patients Poststroke: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis



      To examine the effects of respiratory muscle training on respiratory function, respiratory muscle strength, and exercise tolerance in patients poststroke.

      Data Sources

      We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Embase, SciELO, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), and CINAHL (from the earliest date available to November 2015) for trials.

      Study Selection

      Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of respiratory muscle training versus nonrespiratory muscle training in patients poststroke. Two reviewers selected studies independently.

      Data Extraction

      Extracted data from the published RCTs. Study quality was evaluated using the PEDro Scale. Weighted mean differences (WMDs), standard mean differences (SMDs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

      Data Synthesis

      Eight studies met the study criteria. Respiratory muscle training improved maximal inspiratory pressure WMDs (7.5; 95% CI, 2.7–12.4), forced vital capacity SMDs (2.0; 95% CI, 0.6–3.4), forced expiratory volume at 1 second SMDs (1.2; 95% CI, 0.6–1.9), and exercise tolerance SMDs (0.7; 95% CI, 0.2–1.2). No serious adverse events were reported.


      Respiratory muscle training should be considered an effective method of improving respiratory function, inspiratory muscle strength, and exercise tolerance in patients poststroke. Further research is needed to determine optimum dosages and duration of effect.


      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second), FVC (forced vital capacity), MEP (maximal expiratory pressure), MIP (maximal inspiratory pressure), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), RCT (randomized controlled trial)
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