Background: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an increasingly prevalent respiratory disease that impacts on daily living. In addition to difficulty breathing, many people experience extrapulmonary comorbidities such as musculoskeletal disorders. Pulmonary rehabilitation can improve fitness and strength but may be difficult for patients with musculoskeletal disorders. Recent research indicates promising benefits of adding manual therapy to standard care to improve clinical outcomes.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of Muscle Energy Technique (MET) for people with COPD.
Methods: Ten databases were searched from inceptions to May 2018. Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials assessing MET compared to any control for COPD. Outcomes included lung function, exercise capacity, health-related quality of life, and adverse events.
Results: Three randomised controlled trials assessing 90 participants were included. The quality of the research was limited by reporting of outcome measures and results, varying treatment protocols, and small sample sizes. Results from one study showed that pulmonary function was not statistically different between groups at end of treatment (FEV1% MD 4.87%; 95% CI − 0.79 to 10.53). Exercise capacity and perceived dyspnoea ratings were improved in single studies. Adverse events were unrelated to the MET intervention.
Conclusions: The use of MET for COPD is an emerging field of research, with few studies evaluating its efficacy and safety. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of MET in the management of COPD. Rigorously designed studies with larger sample sizes are needed to better understand the role of MET for COPD.
Author keywords: Manual therapy — Muscle energy technique — COPD — Systematic review
Author affiliations: School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
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