Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

David Relling


Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive; Respiratory Mechanics -- physiology; Respiratory Muscles -- physiopathology


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is predicted to become the third leading cause of death worldwide between 2020 and 2030. Signs and symptoms of this disease can be debilitating, however techniques can be taught to decrease impairments. Suggested techniques for pulmonary recovery consist of supporting the upper extremities, supporting the head and leaning forward. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of recovery positions on the EMG activation of accessory muscles of respiration to decipher which recovery position is the most ideal for COPD patients. Fourteen healthy adults over the age of eighteen were recruited for this study. Bilateral EMG surface electrodes were placed on the accessory muscles of breathing including upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, pectoralis major (clavicular head), serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi. The subjects were randomly assigned a series of four different experimental positions: control position with the hands at the sides, standing with hands overhead, leaning forward with hands on knees and sitting with forearms and hands supported by a table. In each position, EMG activity was collected during three separate trials of maximal inspiration and maximal expiration. Results indicated a significantly higher level of bilateral EMG activity in the upper trapezius and serratus anterior in the hands on head position and of the latissimus dorsi during the hands on knees position. In conclusion, standing with hands on head and standing with hands on knees are two positions that are significantly advantageous for activating respiratory accessory muscles and could be utilized by COPD patients during respiratory recovery.