The purpose of this preliminary study was to demonstrate the feasibility of a study that measures the short-term effects of a course of manual therapy (MT) and exercise (Ex) in people with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Fifteen participants (9 males; mean age, 56.1 years), with moderate COPD (mean % predicted forced expiratory volume in the first second [FEV1% predicted], 61.8%), were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 groups: soft tissue therapy only (ST); ST and spinal manipulation (SM); or ST, SM, and Ex. The intervention continued for 4 weeks. Outcome measures included FEV1, forced vital capacity (FVC), chronic respiratory questionnaire (CRQ-SAS) scores, distance walked in a 6-minute walking test, and monitoring for adverse events.
There was an increase in FVC for the SM + ST + Ex group compared with ST only and ST + SM (1.01 and 1.00 L, respectively). Distance walked increased in the ST + SM and ST + SM + Ex groups compared with ST only (120.0 and 168.0 m, respectively). Dyspnea levels decreased in the ST + SM and ST + SM + Ex groups compared with ST only (0.64 and 0.44, respectively). There were no major or moderate adverse events reported following ST or SM interventions.
For this small group of patients, combining MT with Ex produced short improvements in FVC, distance walked, and dyspnea levels, with no major or moderate adverse events. This preliminary study showed that a larger study evaluating the clinical outcomes of MT for people with moderate COPD appears feasible.