Abstract Background: Reduced respiratory muscle strength leads to reduced pulmonary function, chest wall movements in the affected side, and increased chest infections, which thereby reduces oxygenation and ventilation. Respiratory muscle training can be used in acute stroke subjects to increase their pulmonary function. Purpose: To compare the short-term effects of diaphragmatic breathing exercise, flow, and volume-oriented incentive spirometry on respiratory function following stroke. Methods: A non-randomized hospital-based study was conducted at Kasturba Medical College Hospitals, Mangalore, India. Forty-two sub-acute subjects of either gender, with the first episode of stroke within six months, were assigned to three groups by the consultant, i.e., diaphragmatic breathing group (DBE), Flow oriented-incentive spirometry group (FIS), and volume oriented-incentive spirometry group (VIS; N = 14) each. All subjects received intervention thrice daily, along with conventional stroke rehabilitation protocols throughout the study period. Pre- and post-intervention values were taken on alternate days until day 5 for all the three groups. Results: The pulmonary function and maximal respiratory pressures were found to be significantly increased by the end of intervention in all three groups, but FIS and DBE groups had better results than VIS (FVC = FIS group, 13.71%; VIS group, 14.89%; DBE group, 21.27%, FEV1 = FIS group, 25.97%; VIS group, 22.52%; DBE group, 19.38%, PEFR = FIS group, 38.76%; VIS group,9.75%; DBE group, 33.16%, MIP = FIS group, 28.23%; VIS group, 19.36%; DBE group, 52.14%, MEP = FIS group, 43.00%; VIS group, 22.80%; DBE group, 28.68%). Conclusion: Even though all interventions had positive outcomes in all variables, flow incentive spirometry had better results across all outcomes (pulmonary function and maximal respiratory pressures) when compared to the other two interventions making it a valuable tool for stroke rehabilitation.
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