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Research recommends tailoring pulmonary rehabilitation to better support frail people

Last Update 06/04/2021

Pulmonary rehabilitation can benefit people with lung conditions who are frail, according to a new study carried out in the UK.


Pulmonary rehabilitation can benefit people with lung conditions who are frail, according to a new study carried out in the UK.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme that aims to reduce the physical and emotional impacts a long-term lung condition can have on a person’s life. It combines exercise training with education about ways you can help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

The research, published in the journal Thorax, involved 816 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Scientists wanted to understand whether a person’s frailty would affect their ability to finish an 8-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme and their results.

Frailty is a condition that often affects older people, when the body loses some or all of its ability to cope with seemingly minor illnesses or health problems. Having a condition like COPD can bring on frailty or make it worse.

One in four of the people involved in the study was classed as frail and, as such, was more likely to have to drop out of the pulmonary rehabilitation course due to a flare-up of their condition or having to go into hospital.

However, the researchers noted that the frail people who were able to finish the programme actually had better results – less breathlessness, able to be more active, and general improved health – than those not classed as frail. In addition, 61% were no longer considered to be frail after they finished the course.

The researchers believe that their findings could be used as a basis for new, tailored rehabilitation programmes for frail people – and not just those with lung conditions.

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