Respiratory function and functional capacity in chronic stroke patients

Anna Cláudia Martinez Machado, Nathália Grasielle Marinho Silva, Gisele do Carmo Leite Diniz, Bruno Porto Pessoa, Paula Luciana Scalzo


Introduction: Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or stroke results in weakness of the trunk muscles and physical unfitness. Objectives: To evaluate respiratory changes caused by stroke and correlate them with the functional capacity of chronic stroke patients who were treated at the Clinical Center of Physical Therapy of the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Betim. Methods: Fifteen patients were recruited for assessment of respiratory function and functional capacity. We measured maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP), maximal expiratory pressure (MEP), peak expiratory flow (PEF), vital capacity (VC), and functional capacity using the six-minute walk test (6MWT). Test results were compared with reference values using an unpaired Student´s t-test or the Mann-Whitney test. Respiratory variables were correlated with the distance walked in the 6MWT using Spearman´s correlation test. Results: The sample had a mean age of 58.2 ± 13.4 years, and most patients had a diagnosis of ischemic stroke and left hemiparesis. The following values were obtained: MIP (47.7 ± 22.2 cmH2O); MEP (47.5 ± 20.3 cmH2O); PEF (351.3 ± 90.8 L/min); VC (3.0 ± 0.91 L); and 6MWT (222.4 ± 101.6 m). The MIP, MEP, PEF, and 6MWT values measured in this study were statistically significantly lower (p < 0.001) than the reference values. There was no statistically significant correlation between the distance walked in the 6 MWT and respiratory variables (p > 0.005). Conclusion: Our results suggest that, despite the decrease in respiratory muscle strength, PEF, and VC, these variables did not correlate with the functional capacity of the chronic stroke patients assessed in this study.

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