Rehabilitation of COPD patients: which training modality
AbstractNon pharmacological therapy has been gaining more interest and has been evolving rapidly over the last decade as an essential part of therapy for COPD patients. Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR), the most important non pharmacological treatment in patients with COPD, has a primary goal: to achieve the highest possible level of individual exercise tolerance, thus reducing the primary and/or secondary health care utilisation. The aim of the present review is to focus the role of exercise training in these patients as well as to address the question on which training methods are the most beneficial. We have therefore undertaken a MEDLINE-based search including the terms: pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise, lung disease/obstructive. Several strategies based on endurance or strength training are nowadays implemented during PR programmes in order to maximise the benefits for each patient. The impaired function of ambulation muscles causing breathlessness as one of the more frequent symptoms in many COPD, suggests that training the lower extremities is the most important goal to achieve during pulmonary rehabilitation of these patients. On the other hand, as muscle strength appears to be an independent contributor to survival and utilisation of health care resources, it seems largely justified also to include this further modality in the PR program of these patients. In conclusion, both modalities are effective and useful for COPD patients. However, whether resistance training should be administered to all COPD and which is the optimal length of strength training still needs to be elucidated.
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