Physiological Responses to Arm Activity in Individuals With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Compared With Healthy Controls: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW

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The mechanisms underlying physiological limitations during arm activity in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are unknown. The objective of this systematic review was to describe cardiorespiratory responses, symptoms, chest wall kinematics, muscle activity, and lung volumes during arm activity in individuals with COPD relative to the responses of healthy controls.


Original research articles that compared cardiorespiratory responses, symptoms, muscle activity, chest wall kinematics, and lung function during arm activity between individuals with COPD and healthy controls were identified after searches of 5 electronic databases and reference lists of pertinent articles. Two reviewers performed the electronic and manual searches with 1 screening title and abstracts. Two investigators screened the full texts to determine eligibility for inclusion. One reviewer performed the data extraction and tabulation using a standardized form with a second reviewer double-checking the data extracted.


Of the 54 full-text articles assessed for eligibility, 6 met the inclusion criteria. Reduced cardiorespiratory responses during peak arm exercise in individuals with COPD compared with healthy controls were evident. Compared with healthy controls, individuals with COPD had increased dyspnea and hyperinflation during peak arm exercise. Increased effort of the trapezius muscle during arm activities was also found in persons with COPD compared with healthy controls.


There is limited evidence describing physiological responses during arm activity in individuals with COPD. Findings of this systematic review suggest that individuals with COPD have decreased cardiorespiratory responses during peak arm exercise compared with controls but increased dyspnea, hyperinflation, and arm muscle effort.

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