University Researchers Test Exercise Table Designed to Help COPD Patients Breath Easier

University Researchers Test Exercise Table Designed to Help COPD Patients Breath Easier

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is testing an exercise table that could help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe easier: the Easy Breather Exercise Table.

The interdisciplinary UNCW team is now testing the device for Exhale Fully – the company developing the table in several versions – so that it can be marketed as an exercise tool. Team members are:

The COPD research team from left to right: Justine Reel, David Giordano, Robert Boyce, Jared Kerr and Susan Sinclair. Photo by: Bradley Pearce/UNCW
The COPD research team from left to right: Justine Reel, David Giordano, Robert Boyce, Jared Kerr and Susan Sinclair.
Photo credit: Bradley Pearce/UNCW
  • Justine Reel, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Health and Human Services, and a professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences;
  • Jared Kerr, assistant professor in the clinical research program in the School of Nursing;
  • Robert Boyce, associate professor of health and applied science;
  • Susan Sinclair, associate professor in the School of Nursing’s clinical research program;
  • David Giordano, an exercise science student.

“The project integrates a professional team, a community partner, and a North Carolina company,” Kerr said in a press release, noting that all team members have met the inventor himself, while working with the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“The most exciting thing about this team is that they are coming from all disciplines,” said Reel, referring to team members who came from nursing, public health, or exercise science.

Jared Kerr and David Giordano. Photo credits: Bradley Pearce/UNCW
Jared Kerr and David Giordano. Photo credits: Bradley Pearce/UNCW

Southport resident Bob Redden, who is also a COPD patient, developed the table and found that it helped him with his symptoms.

The exercise table lays flat and looks stationary, but it rocks back and forth when weight is placed on it. The person on the table raises an attached bar and proceeds to pull up, rocking the table forward. As the person pushes away, the table rocks backward, leaving the feet higher than the head. This motion has been shown to force the air out of the lungs, allowing COPD patients to exhale completely, which is often difficult for many patients with the disease.

Kerr said it is often discouraging for small companies to pursue scientific studies, which is why the UNCW team is playing a key role in providing the meticulous academic research and scientific testing methods necessary to bring the product to the patients.

Kerr and his fellow researchers are now recruiting healthy volunteers to test the table to evaluate its safety and user-friendliness. Their work has already resulted in a significant revision of the table’s design, since the original model wasn’t completely ready for scientific study.

The manufacturer revised the table’s design and sent the model that is now in the Human Performance Lab in Trask Coliseum. “It’s very different – much smoother,” Reel said.

The UNCW team has published peer-reviewed articles about conventional and complementary therapies for COPD.

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