Muscle training with repetitive magnetic stimulation of the quadriceps in severe COPD patients

Víctor Bustamante, Elena López de Santa María, Amaia Gorostiza, Unai Jiménez, Juan B Gáldiz
Respiratory Medicine 2010, 104 (2): 237-45

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have used electrical neuromuscular stimulation as a physical training method in patients with severe COPD. We introduce the use of the more tolerable magnetic stimulation for the same purpose, investigating the effectiveness of an eight-week protocol.

METHODS: Eighteen patients with severe COPD were randomly assigned to a magnetic stimulation training protocol, n=10, FEV(1)=30% (SD: 7) or to parallel clinical monitoring, control group, n=8, FEV(1)=35% (SD: 8). During eight weeks, patients were stimulated for 15min on each quadriceps femoris, three times per week. Quadriceps muscle strength and endurance measurements, quality-of-life questionnaires (SF36, SGRQ) and a six-minute walking test were all carried out before and after the training period in the stimulated and control subjects.

RESULTS: All patients completed the training with increasing intensity of stimulation, displaying a significant improvement in voluntary quadriceps strength (17.5% of the baseline value) and exercise capacity, with a mean increase of 23m in the six-minute walking test. The questionnaire scores showed greater increases in quality-of-life scores in the trained subjects compared to the controls, particularly in the physical function areas: mean increments in SF36 in "physical function": +26, "role limitations due to physical problems": +40 and "vitality": +17.5, while +13, -4 and +1, respectively in controls. Saint George's "Activity" score improved by 19.6 points, for 11.5 in controls.

CONCLUSIONS: In COPD patients who are limited due to dyspnoea, magnetic neuromuscular stimulation of the quadriceps constitutes a feasible training method for the lower limbs, with positive effects on the muscle function, effort capacity and perception areas.

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