Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of testing an intervention protocol and measuring the immediate effects of a rib mobilization technique (RMT) and a diaphragm release technique (DRT) on the autonomic nervous system of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: This was a pilot study of a randomized controlled trial. Fourteen individuals were evaluated. Eligibility criteria were being a sedentary person with a diagnosis of COPD, age between 50 and 72 years, and being clinically stable. Exclusion criteria were heart disease, other respiratory comorbidities, and body mass index above 30kg/m2. Participants first underwent cardiorespiratory evaluation and were then allocated into 2 groups: the RMT + DRT group and the DRT group. Clinical assessments were performed immediately before and after the intervention. Statistical analysis was carried out through a paired-sample Wilcoxon test, and the comparison between groups was performed using the Mann-Whitney test.
Results: All randomized participants completed the assessment and intervention protocol. Sample size was estimated at 24 individuals per group. The DRT group decreased resting heart rate by 5 bpm (P = .03) and increased variance (P = .04) and mean R-R interval (P = .03). The RMT + DRT group decreased mean R-R interval (P = .02).
Conclusion: The design for this study appears to be feasible for evaluating manual-therapy intervention in the nonmusculoskeletal function of patients with COPD. It was possible to determine the sample size for future studies. Preliminary data show that the diaphragm release technique may reduce mean resting heart rate and increase heart-rate variability immediately after the intervention.
Author keywords: Autonomic Nervous System; Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive; Heart Rate
Author affiliations: HMR, HCMdeS, RV, ADdeA: Department of Physical Therapy, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil; VRN: Department of Physiotherapy, University of Pernambuco Campus Petrolina, Petrolina, Brazil
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