WHO Recognises use of POWERbreathe IMT in COVID Recovery

WHO Recognises use of POWERbreathe IMT in COVID Recovery

As the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations, the​ ​World Health Organisation​ (WHO) is offering guidance on the clinical management of the COVID-19 pandemic. One recommendation for COVID recovery includes increasing exercise and fitness with Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT), such as​ ​POWERbreathe

The WHO’s COVID recovery management plan includes a series of courses developed specifically for healthcare workers that covers essential knowledge for the​ ​‘Rehabilitation of patients with COVID-19’​.

Rehabilitation of patients with COVID-19

The courses provide the latest guidance and evidence for safe and effective COVID-19 patient care. Needs such as cognitive impairment, physical deconditioning and weakness are addressed in their guidance for recovery from COVID. In addition to these needs, respiratory impairment is also common after a long spell in hospital, and is responsible for the difficulty in breathing and fatigue, consequently affecting the ability to be physically active.

Breathing difficulties and fatigue can result in a patient becoming easily breathless during their recovery rehab sessions. What’s more, this can leave them feeling anxious which will only make their breathlessness worse. In fact, the WHO reports fatigue and breathlessness as being commonly reported during COVID recovery, along with impairment to their lung functioning if they’ve been critically unwell.

To address this, the WHO’s Course 6, ‘Rehabilitation of patients with COVID-19’ includes a section on Exercise and Fitness in which it states:

"Increasing exercise and fitness can be aided by Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT). RMT can improve breathing through reducing the effort required by the body as it breathes.

Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) is facilitated through t​he​ loading of inspiration, normally by using a breathing device such as ... Powerbreathe."

World Health Organisation

POWERbreathe IMT helps with recovery from COVID

POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training device that is drug-free and backed by science. There are research papers, original studies and review articles that prove the efficacy of POWERbreathe IMT for​ ​medical conditions​, including​ ​recovery from COVID​. One such​ ​article​ that explores ‘Respiratory Muscle Performance Screening for Infectious Disease Management Following COVID-19’ concludes,

"...in patients identified as having respiratory muscle impairments, respiratory muscle training may prove valuable in mitigating the health impact of future pandemics."

Medical professionals are enrolling patients into the use of​ ​POWERbreathe IMT in Pre-op, Post-op and in ICU​. This is because an unwelcome consequence of prolonged mechanical ventilation, such as in critically unwell COVID patients, is the fast development of respiratory muscle weakness resulting from ventilator-induced diaphragm dysfunction.

In this review article,​ ​The COVID-19 pandemic and physical activity​ authors propose that,

“Given that respiratory muscle weakness is a primary risk factor for failure to wean from the ventilator, developing strategies to protect the diaphragm against mechanical ventilation-induced weakness has become a priority in critical care medicine. Interestingly, studies into the effects of endurance exercise training on the respiratory system have led the way.”

POWERbreathe K Series - IMT Devices

The POWERbreathe K-Series is the intervention being used in a current, large, multi-centre, NHS study called the​ ​Inspire Study​. This sham-controlled randomised controlled trial is looking into the ‘Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of INSPIRatory musclE training (IMT) for reducing postoperative pulmonary complications.

COVID-19 virus - visualisation of virus cell

Globally recommended rehabilitation interventions from WHO

Because the World Health Organisation is the global guardian of public health, their recommendations for rehabilitation interventions for the clinical management of the COVID-19 pandemic apply to all countries and include, as stated:

Increasing ventilation

‘Exercises that increase breathing control and support deep breathing with thoracic expansion to improve ventilation of the lower lung area.’

POWERbreathe IMT exercises the main breathing muscle – the diaphragm, which is located just below the lungs and heart. It uses the principles of resistance training to strengthen the breathing muscles. As a result, patients are able to breathe in more deeply to fully fill the lungs.

Physical exercise and fitness

'Pulmonary rehabilitation programs should be considered; however sessions may need to be modified to take infection prevention and control measures into account.'

Inspiratory muscle training increases respiratory muscle strength and endurance; decreases dyspnea; and improves quality of life and exercise tolerance. This therapy can be used alone or in combination with physical training, especially in patients with inspiratory muscle weakness.

“severe diaphragm myopathy associated with COVID-19 ... may lead to diaphragm weakness and might contribute to ventilator weaning failure, persistent dyspnea and fatigue in patients with COVID-19 who survive.”

This not only supports the case and need for pulmonary rehabilitation in post-COVID patients but also the potential that adopting POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training as a ‘preventative’ measure may provide those patients who do contract the disease and become critically ill a better chance of survival.

Furthermore, this randomised controlled trial using the electronic POWERbreathe K-Series IMT device, finds that its use was, connected to the substantial muscle strength gain. This trial also brought a two positive out comes such as successful weaning and better rates of ICU survival.

NHS Paramedic uses POWERbreathe IMT for recovery from COVID

NHS paramedic Gary Thornton reports improvement in his breathing, a return to work and back to cycling 20 miles after using his POWERbreathe Medic Plus IMT device as part of his recovery from COVID-19. You can read a full statement from Gary Thornton below:

“I am a frontline NHS Paramedic working for the Ambulance Service and recently contracted COVID 19 whilst working. I was hospitalised and the Pneumonia affected my breathing so much I would suffer increased shortness of breath on exertion. Unable to exercise at the start without difficulty I wanted to find a way to improve my fitness.

I researched and came across POWERbreathe. I contacted them and explained my history and they sent me advice on what products would be best. They also provided me with excellent research surrounding the benefits. I found it hard to use at the beginning but kept at it twice daily. I must say my recovery has been a long slow process but feel using this has speeded it up greatly.

My breathing has improved so much, I have gone from only managing a couple of miles on a bicycle to now 20 miles. I have now been able to return to work, and have been passing on positive recommendations to Asthma and COPD patients I have been treating.”

Gary Thornton, NHS paramedic

If you are interested in how to use the POWERbreathe IMT device and which series will be an ideal choice for you, then visit our ‘Breathing Trainers​’ section or ​contact us​ here.