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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Research Review: Should respiratory muscle training be part of the treatment of Parkinson’s disease?

People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience movement problems due to difficulty with communication between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. PD affects the way muscles work for all movement — including in breathing — which may contribute to shortness of breath (dyspnea). Respiratory muscle training may be one option for people with PD to consider.

Respiratory muscle training is specifically targets increasing strength and endurance in the muscles of inspiration and expiration including the diaphragm, abdominal muscles, and muscles in the ribs and in the neck.

A 2020 electronic literature review investigated the effectiveness of respiratory muscle training as a part of treatment for people with PD.

Researchers reviewed articles that performed controlled trials investigating all types of respiratory muscle training, with use of a pressure threshold breathing device, in people with PD analyzing between-group differences in respiratory muscle strength swallowing function, cough parameters, production of speech, and quality of life.

Findings of the Review:

Based on the 5 studies analyzed, respiratory muscle training could be an effective instrument to include in rehabilitation programs for PD because statistical improvements were seen in breathing function. This suggests respiratory muscle training can be an effective treatment for people with PD increasing their participation in normal everyday activities and aerobic exercise.

Improvements were also seen in swallowing function, quality of voice, and quality of life with the use of respiratory muscle training.

Although improvements were seen, it is important to note that only 5 studies were investigated which can be considered a small sample size, so more research is needed to definitively determine effectiveness of respiratory muscle training.

Conclusions of Review:

Including respiratory muscle training in treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease can decrease dyspnea and improve swallowing function, quality of voice, and quality of life, but more research is required to determine true effectiveness of treatment.


  1. Rodríguez MÁ, Crespo I, Del Valle M, Olmedillas H. Should respiratory muscle training be part of the treatment of Parkinson's disease? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Clin Rehabil. 2020;34(4):429-437. doi:10.1177/0269215519896054

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