Introduction Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is an integral part of the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, many patients do not access or complete PR, and long-term exercise maintenance has been difficult to achieve after PR. This study aimed to investigate feasibility, long-term exercise maintenance, clinical effects, quality of life and use of hospital resources of a telerehabilitation intervention. Methods Ten patients with COPD were offered a two-year follow-up via telerehabilitation after attending PR. The intervention consisted of home exercise, telemonitoring and self-management via a webpage combined with weekly videoconferencing sessions. Equipment included a treadmill, a pulse oximeter and a tablet. Data collected at baseline, one year and two years were six-minute walking distance (6MWD), COPD assessment test (CAT), EuroQol 5 dimensions (EQ-5D), hospitalisations and outpatient visits. Results No dropout occurred. Physical performance, lung capacity, health status and quality of life were all maintained at two years. At one year, 6MWD improved by a mean of 40 metres from baseline, CAT decreased by four points and EQ visual analogue scale (EQ VAS) improved by 15.6 points. Discussion Long-term exercise maintenance in COPD via telerehabilitation is feasible. Results are encouraging and suggest that telerehabilitation can prevent deterioration and improve physical performance, health status and quality of life.
Keywords: COPD; exercise; home monitoring; pulmonary rehabilitation; telemedicine.