Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

David Relling


Dyspnea -- therapy; Posture; Pulmonary Ventilation; Respiratory Muscles


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is predicted to be the third leading cause of death worldwide between 2020 and 2030. Smoking continues to be the primary cause of this disease, which is associated with about 80% of all COPD deaths. Signs and symptoms of COPD can be debilitating; however pulmonary recovery positions may be taught to improve breathing capabilities in impaired individuals. Literature suggests techniques for pulmonary recovery may involve supporting the upper extremities, supporting the head, and leaning forward. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of pulmonary recovery positions on EMG activation of accessory muscles of respiration. The goal was to clarify which recovery positions have the greatest activation of the accessory muscles, Eleven healthy adults over the age of eighteen were recruited for this study. Unilateral EMG surface electrodes were placed on the accessory muscles of breathing which included upper trapezius (UT), sternocleidomastoid (SCM), pectoralis major (clavicular head) (PM), serratus anterior (SA), and latissimus dorsi (LD). The subjects were randomly assigned a series of four experimental positions which included: a control position with hands at the sides (Position 1), standing with hands resting overhead (Position 2), leaning forward with hands on knees (Position 3), and sitting with forearms and hands supported by a table (Position 4). In each position, EMG activity was collected during three separate trials of maximal inspiration and maximal expiration, as well as minute ventilation (MV). Results indicated a significant increase in unilateral EMG activity while in Positions 2 and 3. Results found an increase in MV in Positions 2 and 3 though these findings were not significant. Positions 2 and 3 have the greatest possibility to recruit the accessory muscles of ventilation, therefore improving air exchange with patients who suffer from COPD.