Purpose: Traditional land-based pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has been shown to provide improvement in physical performance and quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The training effects of a water environment in pulmonary patients have only been briefly investigated. The purpose of this retrospective study was to compare quality of life and physical performance in land- and water-based PR.
Methods: The study included participants of a land- or water-based PR program. Twenty land- and water-based participants with stable COPD disease were retrospectively matched within 20 mL of their forced expiratory ventilation in 1 second. A multivariate analysis of variance was performed on each group's 6-minute walk test distance; 6-repetition maximum strength tests for the knee, hip, and shoulder; and mental and physical health summary scores of the Medical Outcomes Short-form 36.
Results: Each group significantly improved in all outcome measurements, but there was no difference found in the improvements between the land- or water-based groups.
Conclusion: Clinicians can consider water-based PR exercise program as another treatment option, if available, for patients with COPD and expect similar benefits to traditional land-based PR programs including improved walk distances, strength, and perception of well-being.