Background: Respiratory muscle strength can be reduced in patients diagnosed with stroke, which reasonably justifies the use of respiratory muscle training in this population. This study determines the comparative efficacy of inspiratory, expiratory, and combined respiratory muscle training on the pulmonary functions and chest expansion in acute stroke survivors.
Method: Forty-five acute stroke survivors (15 in each group) completed all protocols of the study. Participants were randomly assigned to any one of three groups. In addition to the conventional exercise therapy, participants received any one of the three respiratory muscle training protocols (inspiratory muscle training, expiratory muscle training or combined respiratory muscle training). Chest expansion was assessed using tape measure and pulmonary function parameters were assessed using a spirometer.
Results: Paired t-test analysis showed significant improvements in the chest expansion and the pulmonary function parameters following training in each group. One-way ANOVA showed significant improvements in the pulmonary function parameters across the three groups but not in the chest expansion with p-value = 0.405. Least significant difference (LSD), post-hoc analysis shows that the significant difference for FEV1, FVC and FEV1/FVC lies between inspiratory muscle training group and expiratory muscle training group.
Conclusion: When the three training methods were compared, it was found that expiratory muscle training was the most beneficial in improving the pulmonary functions and chest expansion in acute stroke survivors.