OBJECTIVES: Expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) is a threshold based device-driven treatment for improving expiratory pressure. EMST proved to be effective in different patient groups to improve cough function. To date, EMST has not been tested in the total laryngectomy population (TL).
METHODS: This prospective, randomized case-series study examined feasibility, safety, and compliance of EMST in a group of TL participants and its effects on pulmonary function, physical exertion, fatigue, and vocal functioning. Ten TL participants were included in the study to perform a 4 till 8 weeks of EMST. Objective and subjective outcome measures included manometry, spirometry, cardio pulmonary exercise testing (CPET), voice recordings, and patient reported outcome measures. Group means were reported and estimates of the effect are shown with a 95% confidence interval, using single sample t-tests.
RESULTS: Nine participants completed the full study protocol. Compliance to the training program was high. All were able to perform the training, although it requires adjustments of the device and skills of the participants. Maximum expiratory pressure (MEP) and vocal functioning in loudness improved over time. After EMST no changes were seen in other objective and subjective outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: EMST appears to be feasible and safe after total laryngectomy. MEP improved over time but no improvement in the clinically relevant outcome measures were seen in this sample of relatively fit participants. Further investigation of the training in a larger group of participants who report specifically pulmonary complaints is recommended to investigate if the increase in MEP results in clinical benefits.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 4.