Acute and 6-Month Outcomes in Recipients of Lung Transplantation Following Lower Extremity Strength Training: Pilot Study

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Individuals who receive lung transplantation (LTx) have prolonged lower extremity weakness that limits exercise capacity and function. The purposes of this pilot study were to measure whether acute, intense, gym-based rehabilitation significantly increased walking distance and lower extremity strength after LTx and to identify whether gains were retained at 6-month follow-up.


Nine men (mean age =57 years) completed 4 weeks of daily (5×/wk), gym-based acute care rehabilitation after LTx. Rehabilitation included stretching, aerobic conditioning, education, and either low- or high-volume strength training. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 6 months post-LTx and included 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) tests, isokinetic torque, isometric torque, and 6-minute walk distance.


Patients attended an average of 17 acute rehabilitation sessions. Following acute rehabilitation, walking distance was increased and patients achieved greater 1-RM for leg press and for knee extension. Regardless of the volume of strength training, knee extension isometric torque and isokinetic torque were significantly increased (P < .05). At 6 months, subjects achieved further gains in leg press 1-RM and grip strength (P < .05), while walking and other strength measures were maintained.


Intense rehabilitation produced acute lower extremity strength improvements that were retained after 6-months. Further study is needed in a larger sample.

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