Neuromuscular electrical stimulation as an alternative to physical exercise in patients with COPD

Kunafina TV1, Chuchalin AG1, Belevsky AS2, Mescheryakova NN2, Kalmanova EN1,3, Kozhevnikova OV3
About authors

1 Department of In-Patient Care, Faculty of Pediatrics,
Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow

2 Department of Pulmonology, Faculty of Continuing Professional Education,
Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow

3 Pletnev City Clinical Hospital, Moscow

Correspondence should be addressed: Tatiana V. Kunafina
Ostrovityanova 1, Moscow, 117997; ur.liam@70_anat

Received: 2018-05-19 Accepted: 2018-07-25 Published online: 2018-08-17

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are unable to do physical exercises included into standard pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a good alternative for such patients as it does not aggravate shortness of breath. The aim of this work was to assess the effect of short-term NMES of the quadriceps femoris muscle on the physical activity of patients with COPD. Our prospective open randomized study was carried out in 36 patients distributed into two groups. The main group was administered NMES for 10 days. On day 10 clinical and functional parameters, as well as adverse events, were evaluated. On admission to hospital, the groups did not differ in terms of the studied parameters. Following the treatment course, the main group significantly improved their step count and electromyography results (418.5 (86.0; 815.0) vs. 226.7 (48.0; 660.0), p = 0.02, and 463.0 (122; 804) vs. 210.5 (64; 481), p = 0.0001, respectively). The patients scored much less on the Mmrc and Borg scales and the CAT-test: 22.8 (18.0; 34.0) vs. 28.4 (26.0; 34.0), p = 0.00007; 2.7 (2.0; 4.0) vs. 3.1 (3.0; 4.0), p = 0.03; and 6.3 (5.0; 7.0) vs. 7.2 (6.0; 9.0), p = 0.0002, respectively. No adverse events were registered in the main group. Based on the obtained results, we conclude that shortterm NMES of the quadriceps femoris muscle improves physical activity, the quality of life and ability to do physical exercise in patients with COPD providing them with a good alternative to standard rehabilitation programs.

Keywords: pulmonary rehabilitation, COPD exacerbation, skeletal muscle dysfunction, neuromuscular electrical stimulation