This study evaluated the effect of chest wall vibration (115 Hz) on breathlessness. Breathlessness was induced in normal subjects by a combination of hypercapnia and an inspiratory resistive load; both minute ventilation and end-tidal CO2 were kept constant. Cross-modality matching was used to rate breathlessness. Ratings during intercostal vibration were expressed as a percentage of ratings during the control condition (either deltoid vibration or no vibration). To evaluate their potential contribution to any changes in breathlessness, we assessed several aspects of ventilation, including chest wall configuration, functional residual capacity (FRC), and the ventilatory response to steady-state hypercapnia. Intercostal vibration reduced breathlessness ratings by 6.5 +/- 5.7% compared with deltoid vibration (P less than 0.05) and by 7.0 +/- 8.3% compared with no vibration (P less than 0.05). The reduction in breathlessness was accompanied by either no change or negligible change in minute ventilation, tidal volume, frequency, duty cycle, compartmental ventilation, FRC, and the steady-state hypercapnic response. We conclude that chest wall vibration reduces breathlessness and speculate that it may do so through stimulation of receptors in the chest wall.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society