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Semin Speech Lang. 2006 Nov;27(4):236-44.

Respiratory muscle strength training: functional outcomes versus plasticity.

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  • 1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Respiratory muscle strength training is a paradigm that has been used for numerous years with a variety of populations including but not limited to spinal cord injury, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, voice disordered, sedentary elderly, and healthy young. The respiratory muscle strength program discussed here is an expiratory muscle strength training and uses a pressure threshold device with a regimented treatment protocol. The primary purpose of the expiratory muscle strength training program is to promote strength in the expiratory muscles. The training protocol occurs five times per day, 5 days a week, and consists of ~15-20 minutes per day of training by the user at home. The device threshold is changed weekly by a clinician to maintain a threshold load of 75% of an individual's maximum expiratory pressure. The threshold setting of the device is always based on the individual's recorded maximum expiratory pressure generated into a digital pressure gauge. Results of 4 weeks of expiratory muscle strength training protocols indicate up to a 50% improvement for healthy subjects, those with multiple sclerosis, and those with spinal cord injury. The potential transfer of expiratory muscle strength to functional outcomes is discussed, as well as how strength-training paradigms may influence cortical plasticity.

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