Swimming pool-based exercise as pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients in primary care: feasibility and acceptability.

Prim Care Respir J. 2008 Sep 9. Rae S, White P. Community Specialist Practitioner, Sydenham Green Group Practice, Sydenham, London, UK.

AIM: To assess the feasibility and acceptability of swimming pool-based exercise as pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) for COPD sufferers.

METHOD: 101 patients with mild or moderate COPD registered with a South London general practice were invited to a swimming poolbased PR programme. Participants completed spirometry, the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ-SR), and the Incremental Shuttle Walk Test (ISWT) before and after the programme. A qualitative interview was used to assess participants' views.

RESULTS: 24 patients (24%) expressed interest; 18 were recruited and 16 (16%) completed the PR programme. Their mean age was 69 yrs, seven were female, and mean % predicted FEV1 was 59%. The mean number of sessions attended was 10.6 out of 12. Significant improvements in dyspnoea score (difference 4.9; 95% CI -8.27 to -1.48) and walking distance (difference 32 metres; 95% CI -52.63 to -11.36) were observed, and all other findings were in the direction of improvement. Most patients enjoyed being in the water, were happy to expose themselves in swimsuits, overcame their fears, valued learning about COPD and socialising with fellow sufferers, and were positive about their physical improvement.

CONCLUSION: The swimming pool is a feasible and positive alternative venue for PR for COPD patients in primary care.




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