Send to

Choose Destination
Respir Med. 2012 Nov;106(11):1517-25. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2012.08.002. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Does upper extremity exercise improve dyspnea in patients with COPD? A meta-analysis.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, First Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical College, 151 Yanjiang Road, Guangzhou 510120, PR China. Electronic address:



Although unsupported upper extremity exercise (UUEE) is recommended in the guidelines for pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), it is controversial whether UUEE improves dyspnea in patients with COPD. The present study conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to clarify whether UUEE could improve dyspnea in COPD patients.


A computerized search through PubMed and Embase (up to Mar 2012) was performed to obtain sample studies. Methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro scale. Weighted mean differences (WMDs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated and heterogeneity was assessed with the I(2) test. The overall effect sizes were compared with the minimum clinically important difference (MCID).


240 patients from 7 studies were included in this meta-analysis. The mean PEDro score was 7.0 (SD = 1.7). The results indicated UUEE relieved dyspnea and arm fatigue during activities of daily living (ADL) (WMD = -0.58, -0.55 scores; 95% CI = -1.13 to -0.02, -1.08 to -0.01), however, the overall treatment effects were lower than the MCID of 1 unit for the Borg scale. There was no statistical significance for dyspnea and arm fatigue during intervention (WMD = -0.34, 0.24 scores; 95% CI = -0.78 to 0.09, -0.33 to 0.81).


UUEE can relieve dyspnea and arm fatigue in patients with COPD during ADL and should be included in the PR program, however, there is currently a lack of clinical evidence to support UUEE relieving dyspnea and arm fatigue. Further study is urgent to investigate these effects of UUEE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center