Does POWERbreathe Really Work? A Review By Shaun Wray

Have you found yourself asking, “does POWERbreathe really work?”. Well, POWERbreathe has decades of research, meta-analysis, scientific trials and review articles behind it that have shown its efficacy in health, medical, fitness and sports. So there’s definitely the evidence to show that it does strengthen the breathing muscles. This is beneficial because weak inspiratory muscles can be the result of a number of causes, including disease. In fact, the scientifically established POWERbreathe breathing training protocol is utilised in many studies into the use of IMT, even with other breathing trainers.

Here is a personal account from Shaun Wray who wrote to us about his condition, diagnosis and recovery after using POWERbreathe IMT which, in his own words,

(POWERbreathe IMT) has made a massive difference in my life!

Where it all began

In December 2017 at the age of 29 I was given a very hard diagnosis, well at the time my brilliant pulmonologist (Dr Chohan, Lungs For Life pulmonary practice, Life Fourways Hospital) had said it was not going to be easy but the severity of it all didn’t really sink in and I took it quite lightly. It was natural for me to take it lightly, because I had lived a healthy life, although I had heavy onset asthma from infancy it never got me down and it was controlled. I played sport throughout school and varsity and even cycled at an elite level until a few years back when this all started.

The diagnosis

After a struggle of nearly a year I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), formerly called Churg-Strauss syndrome. It is a form of vasculitis—a family of rare diseases characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels, which can restrict blood flow and damage vital organs and tissues. EGPA is one of the rarest forms of vasculitis and primarily affects the small blood vessels. EGPA can affect the lungs and is a serious but treatable disease. Treatment typically includes corticosteroids in combination with medications that suppress the immune system.

Drug treatment

With the treatment being quite intense we started on a low dose of cortisone and hoped that my body would stabilize. Well it didn’t. On the 28th of December I was away with my family when my lungs got increasingly tight and my sister rushed me to the hospital. A few hours of chaos ensued as I was being transferred from this remote hospital in a small holiday town to another hospital an hour away where I could be treated properly. Shortly after arriving at the Life Fourways Hospital everything went black. I woke up, what felt like a few hours later. Turns out it was 6 days later and I had missed a whole lot.

My lungs had begun to haemorrhage and I was put in an induced coma on life support. It was definitely a lot to process and from then I had a better understanding of the severity of the condition and that my recovery would be a long journey. Even with effective treatment, EGPA is a chronic illness with cycles of relapse and remission that can cause serious health problems, so ongoing medical care is necessary. While I was in the coma the Doctors had started a blood plasma exchange and given a chemotherapy called Cyclophosphamide which would suppress the EGPA antibody. We had planned on doing a course of 6 Cyclophosphamide transfusions every 6 weeks while also taking a large dose of corticosteroids, as well as, a handful of other tablets to treat the side effects of the cortisone and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, a month or so after I had completed the first 6 treatments I had another flare up. So we decided to do three more, taking the total infusions to 9 which is the maximum one can have.

I spent most of 2019 trying different immune suppressants and medicine combos, they would work for a while then something would go wrong. It was more time in hospital and more time away from doing things I enjoy. It was a frustrating year to say the least. Eventually, in January 2020 my immune system was so low that I contracted TB and the treatment that came with that caused all sorts of problems. In June of 2020 I had a big flare up and ended up back on ventilators in ICU. I was sure it was the end of the line. I felt that due to my illness I was unable to live a life that had any resemblance of my former active self. With the ongoing global pandemic I was in an isolation ward, with no visitors allowed and I had a good two weeks to think, research and plan. We did a blood plasma exchange which would give me 6 weeks of relief then we would apply for me to go on a biolical drug called rituximab.

Could POWERbreathe really work?

Because I have been on corticosteroids for close on 3 years I had corticosteroid-induced myopathy. This muscle weakness had effected my core muscles of which the diaphragm is one. In order for me to live the life I want and deserve I would need to work on getting this strength back. I met with a physiotherapist who specialises in bronchial rehabilitation (Jodi Walmer) and we started with various exercises to help strengthen the core muscles. She had also recommended a POWERbreathe device. But, I asked myself, “Does POWERbreathe Really Work?” After some research and being very data and tech driven I was keen to get my hands on one. I got the classic POWERbreathe Medic and stuck to the schedule of taking 30 breaths twice a day. That’s all, 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening. Within days I could see the results and it was complimenting my new exercise plan well.

Does POWERbreathe Really Work?

It’s been a little over a month with my POWERbreathe, complimented by weekly physio sessions and frequent biokinetics sessions with Giulia Muto, who also specialises in rehab to build my core and general strength.

I am feeling better than I have in years and my peak flow continues to improve. I am back on the bicycle, back on the motorbike (I race those as well) and my daily sessions with the POWERbreathe are vital to maintaining my health and lung function and I look forward to upgrading to a K-Series device in a few months, should the budget allow it! 

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