Researchers at the University of Granada (UGR) and Virgen de las Nieves Hospital, Spain, developed a brief physical therapy treatment of 7 to 10 days that demonstrates it can improve the quality of life of obese patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The therapeutic treatment program also reduced the need for patients to stay in the hospital.
COPD is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by long-term poor airflow. The main symptoms include shortness of breath and cough with sputum production. COPD typically worsens over time. Eventually walking up stairs or carrying things will be difficult. Obesity in COPD patients has increased in the last decades, and its prevalence varies from 10 to 20 percent in European countries.
The CTS-009 research team at the Physical Therapy Department at UGR is developing a project called PULMOACTIVE, sponsored by the Health and Progress Foundation, Oximesa, and Boehringer Ingelheim.
In the study, 49 hospitalized, obese COPD patients were randomly allocated to a control group, in which they received standard care, or to an intervention group, in which patients were included in a multimodal therapeutic program combined with standard care. The main outcome measures were pulmonary function, physical strength, exercise capacity, and perceived dyspnea, quality of life, and psychological distress.
According to a news release, the researchers found that a brief physical therapy program of 7 to 10 days minimized the effects of hospitalization, and improved the physical abilities of COPD patients. The researchers also noted that the program could increase daily life functionality.
The activities that comprised the multimodal exercise program were focused on the lower extremities using elastic bands, pedaling, as well as exercises while patients were seated, and while balancing on one foot.
“A multimodal therapeutic program has a beneficial effect on physical functioning and perceived variables in hospitalized obese patients with AECOPD [acute exacerbation COPD],” the research team concluded in their article.
The team believes that future research should explore other modalities of physical therapy in obese COPD patients.