Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has proven effective in improving exercise tolerance and quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In Canada, however, there are insufficient rehabilitation services. New strategies such as telerehabilitation must be deployed to increase accessibility. This study aims to investigate the effect of telerehabilitation on exercise tolerance and quality of life and to document patient satisfaction and adherence.
Materials and methods: Twenty-six patients with moderate to very severe COPD participated in this pre-/postintervention study. They received 15 in-home teletreatment sessions over 8 weeks via videoconference from a service center to their home. Education was provided via self-learning health capsules. Assessments were carried out twice before (T0 and T1; 8 weeks apart) and immediately after the intervention (T2). Primary outcome measures were changes in exercise tolerance (6-min walk test [6MWT] and cycle endurance test [CET]) and quality of life (Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire [CRQ]).
Results: There were significant improvements between pre- and postintervention (T2-T1) on the 6MWT (32 m; p<0.001), CET (41 s; p=0.005), and three of four CRQ domains (dyspnea [p<0.001], fatigue [p=0.002], and emotion [p=0.002]). Improvements in the CET and fatigue during the 8-week intervention period were greater than changes over 8 weeks of maturation (T1-T0) (p=0.004 and 0.02, respectively). Participants' satisfaction and adherence rate with telerehabilitation were very high.
Conclusions: Using telehealth technology to deliver in-home PR is a feasible and practical solution for patients with moderate to very severe COPD. The telerehabilitation program was associated with beneficial effects on exercise tolerance and quality of life and was well received by users.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exercise tolerance; pulmonary rehabilitation; quality of life; telehealth technology; videoconference.