Respiratory muscle strengthening programs are either inspiratory or expiratory and typically use handheld devices.

Dr. Christine Sapienza from the University of Florida in Gainesville tells us if it makes a difference.

Here’s what she found.

  • Few studies of strengthening techniques for people with voice-disorders are available.
  • Training durations studied typically are 20 to 30 minutes per day for 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Inspiratory muscle strength training shows promise for upper airway disorders including abductor vocal fold paralysis (a distressing condition, not infrequently causing death due to asphyxia) and paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction (can be manifested as wheezing, labored breathing, cough, and shortness of breath).
  • Case studies of Lance Adams syndrome show a positive outcome.
  • There’s no benefit in multiple sclerosis.
  • Studies in Parkinson’s disease are ongoing, but the results have not been published yet.

The bottom line?
Under the appropriate circumstances, respiratory muscle strength training can benefit patients. However, in the summary of her review, Dr. Sapienza focuses on the time following discontinuation of training. “Detraining outcomes are important to examine as part of clinical trials. Defining detraining outcomes has major implications for the development of a complete rehabilitation program.”

In an earlier study, she reported, “Expiratory muscle strength gains following a 4- and 8-week expiratory muscle strength training program do not differ significantly. Additionally, detraining rates do not appear to be dependent on length of training time.”

7/4/08 19:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.