The immediate effect of soft tissue manual therapy intervention on lung function in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Carlos Cruz-Montecinos, Diego Godoy-Olave, Felipe A. Contreras-Briceno, Paulina Gutierrez, Rodrigo Torres-Castro, Leandro Miret-Venegas, Roger M. Engel*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)
    123 Downloads (Pure)


    Background and objective: In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accessory respiratory muscles are recruited as a compensatory adaptation to changes in respiratory mechanics. This results in shortening and overactivation of these and other muscles. Manual therapy is increasingly being investigated as a way to alleviate these changes. The aim of this study was to measure the immediate effect on lung function of a soft tissue manual therapy protocol (STMTP) designed to address changes in the accessory respiratory muscles and their associated structures in patients with severe COPD.

    Methods: Twelve medically stable patients (n= 12) with an existing diagnosis of severe COPD (ten: GOLD Stage III and two: GOLD Stage IV) were included. Residual volume, inspiratory capacity and oxygen saturation (SpO2) were recorded immediately before and after administration of the STMTP. A Student's t-test was used to determine the effect of the manual therapy intervention (P<0.05).

    Results: The mean age of the patients was 62.4 years (range 46-77). Nine were male. Residual volume decreased from 4.5 to 3.9 L (P= 0.002), inspiratory capacity increased from 2.0 to 2.1 L (P= 0.039) and SpO2 increased from 93% to 96% (P= 0.001).

    Conclusion: A single application of an STMTP appears to have the potential to produce immediate clinically meaningful improvements in lung function in patients with severe and very severe COPD.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)691-696
    Number of pages6
    JournalInternational Journal of COPD
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • expiratory reserve volume
    • plethysmography
    • residual volume
    • inspiratory capacity


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