1996 – The Journey Begins
In 1996 leading Sports Scientists at Loughborough University (England, UK) recognised that breathing not only presents a limitation to athletes but also impacts on the exercise tolerance in patients with respiratory illness and healthy people. Pioneering research was undertaken by the group with positive outcomes resulting in the initial product design patent being applied for. Research in Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) was then moved on to Birmingham University where the team continued to develop the project with the benefit of both Sports Science and Medical expertise contributing towards the creation of the first POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training device and approval of the patent protection. This has resulted in bringing breathing training into the mainstream of Sports Science, fitness and sports performance training.
The demands placed upon the breathing muscles to pump air in and out of our lungs can be enormous; so strenuous in fact that we have measured fatigue of the inspiratory muscles after simulated competitions ranging in duration from 3 to 60 minutes (Lomax and McConnell, 2003; Volianitis et al, 2001; Romer et al, 2002). Inspiratory muscle fatigue has both sensory and metabolic repercussions, both of which impair performance.
The good news is that the inspiratory muscles respond to training in the same way as other muscles – if you subject them to an appropriate training stimulus, they will adapt, increasing their strength, power and endurance (Romer & McConnell, 2003). Whilst the underlying physiological mechanisms may differ, the exercise-related benefits of this training appear to be universal, applying to world-class athletes as much as they do frail elderly patients with severe emphysema.
In 1998, the POWERbreathe was awarded the prestigious Millennium Mark by the Design Council of Great Britain and was featured at two sites within the Millennium Experience (within the “Pharmacy of the Future” within the Body Zone, as well as within the special Millennium Products Exhibition in the “Spiral of Innovation”). In April 1998 POWERbreathe was also featured on the BBC´s Tomorrow´s World programme.
The 1st generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products (breathing training) to have been developed, known today as the POWERbreathe Classic Series, was awarded a ‘Millennium Product’ by UK Design Council.
In 2001 the ownership of the POWERbreathe project in its entirety was purchased by one of UK’s leading suppliers of health-related fitness and sports performance products, namely HaB International Limited resulting in the POWERbreathe project entering the next phase of its development.
HaB International Ltd developed a 10 year road map to start with which involved planning for financial investment and recruitment of world-class product developers to ensure that only the Best in Class products would be developed to have the POWERbreathe name associated with them.
Working together with an internal team of software and product design engineers, as well as, a number of high-quality external partners including Professors from Brunel University and Surrey University, as well as, specialists in electronics, materials and more, HaB was able to reinforce its commitment to the long-term success of the POWERbreathe project.
Following significant improvements to the production quality the POWERbreathe Classic Series was re-launched. Three models were created to address the user needs based on their wide range of inspiratory muscle strength: Light Variable Resistance (LR); Medium Variable Resistance (MR); and Heavy Variable Resistance (HR). Each model featured manually adjustable training levels to allow for progressive training.
The POWERbreathe Plus Series, the 2nd generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products (breathing training) to be developed by HaB’s internal team, was the result of new research and the latest developments in technology. The products featured a new hi-tech design, optimised airflow performance, anti-bacterial qualities and other design developments.
The three levels of resistance developed in 2001 were retained, creating three models in the POWERbreathe Plus series: Light Variable Resistance (LR); Medium Variable Resistance (MR); and Heavy Variable Resistance (HR). Each model featured manually adjustable training levels to allow for progressive training.
In March 2006, the POWERbreathe Medic model was approved for prescription in the UK, offering an evidence-based, drug-free treatment for patients with dyspnoea, especially those with asthma, COPD and heart failure.
In 2009, a new training stimulus that combines POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training with total-body workouts was developed: ActiBreathe™. This unique combination brings added benefits to breathing and exercise training, developing tone and fitness and charging your body with the power of breathing.
Autumn 2010 saw the launch of the revolutionary POWERbreathe K-Series – World’s 1st Intelligent Digital Breathing Trainer. The electronic hand held POWERbreathe K-Series device range includes models to suit every individual training needs. The consumer to sports performance series includes the K1, K2, K3, K4 and K5 models, and the healthcare and medical market needs are served by the KH1 and KH2.
The POWERbreathe K-Series is the 3rd generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products which has taken over nine years to develop from scratch and has been recognised by International Patents being approved.
The POWERbreathe K-Series series uses patented Auto-Optimising Technology to automatically adapt to increases in inspiratory muscle strength. Training results, progress and respiratory measurements are displayed continuously on an LCD screen or in the case of the K4, K5 and KH2 models, the user and/or Professional can review every single breath, as well as, the overall training profile in detail via the Breathe-Link Software.
In October 2010, the POWERbreathe K-Series was awarded the UK Plastics Industry’s most prestigious award, “2010 Consumer Product Design of the Year”.
The Plastics Industry Awards is an initiative that recognises, celebrates and encourages achievement throughout the UK plastics industry and offers an insight into current developments in materials usage, product design and innovative manufacturing, as well as identifying excellence in training and environmental performance. Entries for the 2010 awards came from all sectors of the industry and highlighted a wide range of novel solutions.
The recognition of the POWERbreathe K-Series for the Quality of Design and Product Innovation follows in the footsteps of previous recognition of POWERbreathe products by peer leaders and independent experts, notably the POWERbreathe Classic which was recognised by the UK Design Council and named a “Millennium Product” in 2001.
POWERbreathe International Ltd was formed specifically to take on the POWERbreathe project and ensure a dedicated team was focusing on the future product and business development for continued growth globally. HaB International Ltd remains responsible for the business development in the UK and Ireland.
2011 also saw the biggest attendance to the POWERbreathe International Distributors meeting here in Warwickshire, England, with 21 countries attending from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil, USA and Russia. Not only were there many practical sessions and demonstrations, but each country contributed to the meeting with stories of how POWERbreathe has helped people in their own countries. And to bring all these people together we launched our Social Media campaign so that we could all talk to each other via the POWERbreathe Official Facebook page and the POWERbreathe Official Twitter page. We now have many dedicated followers, many new to POWERbreathe and many more already familiar with POWERbreathe who are only too happy to share their amazing stories.
The new K5 with Breathe-Link Software and the ultimate in breathing training technology was also launched to wide acclaim. Users are now able to manage and store their own customised training routines and utilise specific performance testing parameters via the unique Breathe-Link software.
Late 2011 saw the roll-out of the International COPD study led by Professor Rik Gosselink and his team at University of Leuven, Belgium. Initial countries to participate are Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Canada.
POWERbreathe International are proud to have had the K-Series models selected for this prestigious study and assisted by cooperating with the University of Leuven team to develop new features and functions specifically required for COPD patients involved in this study.
The POWERbreathe International Distributors Meeting was held in Warwickshire, England, a few days before London 2012 Olympics and attended by our International partners.
POWERbreathe is also pleased to have been a contributor to the success of Team GB, as well as, other International athletes and teams at the Olympics.
Spring 2013 saw the first paper to be published in relation to the COPD study and POWERbreathe is very honoured to have been recognised in providing ‘Gold Standard’ K-Series devices for this important research.
2014 saw the launch of the new electronic KH-Series of respiratory muscle training and assessment devices, specifically developed for use by healthcare professionals.
The KH1 was the first in the series and incorporated a Maximum Inspiratory Pressure (MIP) test that the patient undertakes for baseline measurement. MIP should then be re-tested following POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training to quantify improvement. The KH1 is now widely accepted for use in patient groups including COPD, asthma, cardiac failure, thoracic surgery and neuromuscular disease.
2015 introduced the next stage in the development of the KH-Series for healthcare professionals with the launch of the KH2 with Breathe-Link Medic Live Feedback Software offering real time training, testing and assessment.
In 2016 POWERbreathe launched a newly developed website, designed in order to fulfil the requirements that visitors had been expressing. Landing pages were tailored to market requirements, with areas specifically for Fitness & Sports, Health & Lifestyle and Medical – for Healthcare Professionals only.
In May 2017 the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software won the Best Innovation For Human Performance Award at Elevate. Elevate is the biggest cross-sector physical activity, health and performance event in the UK. The Elevate Innovation Awards are a series of prizes for the best products and services in 5 defined categories: Best Health and Wellness Innovation, Best Workout Innovation, Best Facility Innovation, Best Start-up and Best Innovation for Human Performance.
In 2019 a major clinical trial was launched by The University of Colorado Boulder into the effects of Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) on lowering blood pressure, reducing heart attack risk, as well as, boosting cognitive and physical performance. The trial used the POWERbreathe K-Series. During the trial, they found significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function among trial participants who performed IMST with the POWERbreathe K-Series.