In normal subjects bracing impairs the function of the inspiratory muscles

E. Prandi, J. Couture, F. Bellemare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Normal subjects can increase their capacity to sustain hyperpnoea by bracing their arms on fixed objects, a procedure which is also known to reduce dyspnoea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the present study, it was tested whether bracing per se could improve the function of the diaphragm. The effect of bracing on diaphragm function was studied in six normal subjects by recording changes in oesophageal (ΔPoes) and transdiaphragmatic (ΔPdi) pressure during inspiratory capacity (IC) manoeuvres in the seated and upright postures, and in the seated posture, also during bilateral phrenic nerve stimulation (BPNS) at functional residual capacity (FRC). The pattern of ribcage motion and deformation associated with bracing and with diaphragm contraction was also evaluated using inductance plethysmography and magnetometers. Bracing increased FRC by >300 mL and reduced IC by ~200 mL, in both postures. ΔPdi during BPNS decreased on average by 15% indicating an impaired diaphragmatic function. The ribcage was deformed with bracing and was more distortable during BPNS. In conclusion, in normal subjects, bracing impairs the function of the inspiratory muscles and reduces ribcage stability. These negative effects cannot explain the improved capacity to sustain hyperpnoea when the arms are braced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1085
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Chest wall mechanics
  • Diaphragm
  • Phrenic nerve stimulation
  • Respiratory muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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