Background: COVID-19 affects the multiorgan system, mostly the respiratory system. Symptoms might vary from upper respiratory manifestation to acute respiratory distress syndrome, with the main feature being impairment of gas exchange. This pulmonary impairment might lead to a decrease in functional capacity, which cause activity limitation. Thus, COVID-19 patient requires the right pulmonary rehabilitation strategy to improve pulmonary function and prevent further pulmonary complications. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of incentive spirometry and diaphragm breathing exercise on cardiorespiratory functional capacity in COVID-19 patients.
Methods: Subjects were divided into two groups of breathing exercises, the incentive spirometry group and the diaphragm breathing exercise group. They performed breathing exercises for 5 days, and the functional capacity was measured by a test named 4-meter gait time test (4MGT) and 30 sit-to-stand test (30STS). The test was taken before and after performing breathing exercises.
Results: These two respiratory exercises significantly affected the functional capacity in a good manner (p < 0.05). The incentive spirometry had improved 30STS (P = 0.763) and 4MGT results (P = 0.674), as well as diaphragm breathing exercise did to 30STS (P = 0.456) and 4MGS (P = 0.441).
Conclusion: In conclusion, diaphragm breathing exercises and incentive spirometry improved the functional capacity of COVID-19 patients. However, incentive spirometry showed a larger effect on 30STS and 4MGT compared to diaphragm breathing exercises.