At-home rehab feasible for COPD sufferers

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Results of a clinical trial suggest that rehabilitation at home rather than in a clinic is safe and effective for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Dr. Francois Maltais, from Hopital Laval, Quebec, and colleagues assessed breathlessness and other outcomes in 252 patients with moderate-to-severe COPD who were randomly assigned to participate in an 8-week rehab program at home or as outpatients.

With the home-based program, participants performed aerobic and strength exercises three times a week. A qualified exercise specialist began the program in the individual’s home and then made weekly telephone calls to reinforce the importance of sticking to the program and to address any problems.

After 1 year, patients in both groups showed similar improvements in breathing difficulties, the team reports in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Most adverse events in both groups were related to COPD flare-ups. No serious adverse events in either group were thought to be due to the assigned rehab program.

“We propose that self-monitored, home-based pulmonary rehabilitation could be easily implemented in many countries,” Maltais and colleagues conclude. “The opportunity to offer different pulmonary rehabilitation settings tailored to individual needs should improve the accessibility to this intervention.”

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, December 16, 2008.

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