Respiratory Muscle Training

Respiratory Muscle Training

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When your breathing muscles are weakened from disease or surgery it can have a devastating impact on daily life. Impaired breathing may hamper your ability to do physical activity, including walking, climbing stairs, and even sleep.  Speech and swallowing can also be affected. Respiratory muscle training (RMT) strengthens the respiratory muscles and improves your ability to perform these activities.

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Strength Training for Your Respiratory Muscles

Conditions Treated
Duke speech pathologists offer RMT to strengthen breathing muscles weakened by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)obstructive sleep apneaParkinson’s diseasemultiple sclerosismuscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury, among others. Respiratory muscle training is also used to speed ventilator weaning and strengthen breathing muscles following tracheostomy. In addition to increasing respiratory muscle strength, respiratory muscle training may be beneficial for other activities such as speaking, swallowing and coughing, which use related muscles.

Personalized Treatment Plans
Our speech pathologists evaluate your condition, and design a treatment plan that’s right for you. When appropriate, we can combine respiratory muscle training with traditional communication and swallowing therapies to ensure we provide you with the most complete care for your condition. With our intervention and guidance, you will strengthen your respiratory muscles, and improve your breathing.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Inspiratory Muscle Training

A small, handheld device provides resistance against inhalation. You are trained to inhale forcefully into the device. Inspiratory muscle training, or IMT,  is individualized to your current inspiratory strength and overall medical condition. The frequency of training, number of repetitions, and amount of resistance is adjusted to ensure you experience an optimal training program. 

Expiratory Muscle Training

A small, handheld device provides resistance against exhalation. You are trained to exhale forcefully into the device.  As with IMT, expiratory muscle training, or EMT,  is individualized to your current expiratory strength and overall medical condition. The frequency of training, number of repetitions, and amount of resistance is adjusted to ensure you experience an optimal training program.

Speech and/or Swallowing Therapy

We may recommend additional speech and/or swallowing exercises to meet your specific needs.

Education and Counseling

We work closely with you to develop a plan that addresses your specific concerns and adapts the treatment plan based on your feedback.

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Comprehensive Communication Evaluation

Speech, language, and cognition are tested with physical examination, questionnaires, practical and functional information gathering and standardized testing based on your individual needs.

Respiratory Pressure Manometry

Our maximum inspiratory (breathing in) and  expiratory (breathing out) pressures are tested by blowing and sucking into a hand held device.

Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study

Video X-rays visualize your mouth, throat and upper esophagus as you swallow foods and drinks of different textures and consistencies, mixed with barium (a liquid visible on X-rays). Evaluates your swallowing process, if food or liquid is entering your airway (aspiration), which types of food and liquid are safe for you to swallow, and if any modifications in position or food consistency makes swallowing safer.

Fiber-Optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing

A flexible tube with a small, lighted camera at its tip is passed through your nose to view your throat while you swallow brightly colored foods and liquids. You may be asked to try different swallowing positions, such as tilting your head or tucking your chin, to see which work best.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.