Electric stimulation of breathing in chronic lung diseases

George W. Holmes, William B. Buckingham, David W. Cugell, Kurt Kirchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The efficacy of intentionally deep breathing in the treatment of chronic pulmonary disease has been questioned. The method here described employs a portable generator of electrical stimuli. A band-like electrode applied along the costal margin stimulates the peripheral portions of the diaphragm for inspiration; a pair of flat electrodes applied over the two parts of the m. rectus abdominis induces expiration. Intensity and timing can be adjusted. Treatments lasting 10 to 15 minutes were given two or three times a week to 34 patients with pulmonary conditions that were not responding to other therapeutic measures. A group of 13 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary emphysema proved to be the most difficult to evaluate and had the least satisfactory clinical responses. In the remaining patients (five with empyema, seven with traumatic conditions, and nine recovering from lobectomy) evidence from ventilation measurements, chest roentgenograms, and other criteria showed significant improvement during the weeks of treatment. It is pointed out that a series of comparable untreated patients is difficult, if not impossible, to acquire. The treatment seemed to hasten the resolution of exudates and the mobilization of the diaphragm. The patients accepted it readily and showed no adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1546-1551
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 29 1958

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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