Highlights from

ERS 2019

The ERS International Congress 2019

Madrid, Spain 28 September - 2 October 2019

Exercise with virtual reality beneficial for COPD patients

In a 2-week training programme for patients with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) virtual reality-based rehabilitation led to greater mobility improvement than traditional pulmonary rehabilitation [1].

Longer term rehabilitation with a duration of 6 weeks is internationally recommended by guidelines as it has shown to improve dyspnoea and exercise tolerance [1,2]. However, in some countries, e.g. Poland and Germany, health insurance generally only approves up to 3 weeks of rehabilitation [1]. Thus, Dr Sebastian Rutkowski (Opole University of Technology, Poland) and his colleagues wanted to find out whether shorter periods of rehabilitation are still able to augment physical performance.

Dr Rutkowski and colleagues also aimed to compare the efficacy of traditional exercise capacity training to a pulmonary rehabilitation programme including non-immersive virtual reality techniques and operated with a gaming console and motion sensor. The 68 included patients were between 50 and 70 years old and suffered from moderate COPD with GOLD stages 2 or 3. Among the exclusion criteria were higher-grade heart failure, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and uncontrolled hypertension. Rehabilitation training took place 5 times a week over 2 weeks either with the virtual reality programme or traditional pulmonary rehabilitation, which included breathing and fitness exercises as well as relaxation training. Primary outcome was defined as improvement in Senior Fitness Test (SFT) performance. Analysis was done with mixed-effects models.

Both groups showed significant ameliorations of the SFT after the 2-week intervention. The members of the virtual reality-group yielded significantly better results in values for arm curl, chair stand, and 6-minutes-walk-test than those in the traditional pulmonary rehabilitation group (P<0.05).

According to Dr Rutkowski, a virtual-reality programme could motivate COPD patients, in particular those with limited activity, to perform regular physical fitness exercises at home.

Keywords: COPD; Virtual Reality; Rehabilitation; Physical Functional Performance

  1. Rutkowski S, et al. PA570, ERS 2019, 29 Sept-2 Oct, Madrid, Spain.
  2. Egan C, et al. Respir Med. 2012;106(12):1671-9.

Top image: @ iStockPhoto: sudok1

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