Get involved > Spotlight on MND > October 2018 > Can breathing exercises help people with MND?

Spotlight on MND


Can breathing exercises help people with MND?

People living with MND represent a significant proportion of patients seen at the Victorian Respiratory Support Service, a state-wide service that provides specialised respiratory management for people who require ventilatory support at home. In 2017, there were over 100 people living with MND using ventilatory support at home in Victoria.  

Science in brief
Ms Sheers is conducting a clinical trial to investigate whether doing specialised breathing exercises every day slows the decline in breathing function or improves cough effectiveness of people with MND.

Participants perform a number of different breathing tests and complete questionnaires at the baseline visit, before being randomly allocated to perform one of two different types of breathing exercises. People are asked to do their assigned exercises twice a day for a 3-month period, with each exercise session taking between 5-10 minutes. Researchers visit people in their home to review progress at the 1-month and 2-month mark. The final 3-month visit repeats these breathing tests and questionnaires to assess changes in breathing, cough and quality of life. 

The study is over 50 per cent complete and people with MND who are participating have reported no significant difficulties with the trial. This research will help people living with MND, their families, carers and clinicians understand what treatments maintain the best ability to breathe and cough as MND progresses.

Although use of a mask ventilator (non-invasive ventilation) helps people with breathing muscle weakness live longer, it only addresses one aspect of the respiratory problems. Respiratory complications such as chest infections or pneumonia are also common towards the end of someone’s disease, so improving cough or breathing function could improve people’s symptoms and quality of life. A weak cough, a soft voice and losing the ability to take a deep breath are all distressing symptoms faced by some people with MND. This study aims to help with these symptoms. 

Article sourced from MND Research Institure of Australia report '$25Million, 25 Milestones: Changing the future of MND'. 


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