African Journal of Respiratory Medicine

Muscle energy techniques in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A narrative review


Background: Physiotherapy plays a major role in the long-term management of COPD. Guidelines issued by the BTS (2013) and the GOLD guidelines (2017) set a strong recommendation for pulmonary rehabilitation, chest mobility and breathing exercises as a management for these patients. Research is now focusing on METs as an adjunct to other treatments but evidence is still inconclusive. The aim of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of METs on chest expansion, pulmonary function and exercise tolerance for patients diagnosed with COPD.

Design: Narrative review of research studies.

Data sources: Google Scholar, Pubmed, Medline, Embase and Research Gate were searched for all journal articles published between 2000-2023.

Method: Papers were included under the population intervention comparator outcome (PICO) framework. Critical appraisal, data abstraction, and synthesis were carried out by the different authors.

Results: Out of 23 titles screened, 7 interventions with a low to moderate risk of bias met the inclusion criteria. Studies that implemented METs intervention were observed to have promising results on chest expansion, pulmonary function and exercise tolerance when integrated with self-stretching exercises, chest mobility exercises and/or breathing exercises, aerobic training and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Conclusion: METs as an adjuvant treatment in patients with COPD show favourable improvements in pulmonary function, chest expansion and exercise tolerance. However, there is still insufficient evidence.

Impact: Possible positive effects following METs intervention as an adjunct to other physiotherapy treatments may lead to greater health benefits.

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