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Deborah Leader, RN

Homebound COPD Patients May Benefit From In-Home Exercises

By January 25, 2013

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The Medicare definition of "homebound" applies to any person who is unable to leave the home without the help of an assistive device ( wheelchair, walker, etc.) or another person. A new study finds that aerobic conditioning and functional strength training for just two months produces measurable improvements in quality of life in COPD patients who are homebound. Imagine what these exercise programs could do for you if you did them for a much longer period of time!

The study enlisted 41 COPD patients, 24 of whom completed the study. Patients were divided into two groups: Group A consisting of patients who participated in aerobic conditioning and Group B consisting of patients who performed functional strength training. All patients met the criteria for homebound.

At the conclusion of the study, patients reported a significant improvement in quality of life, with 80% of Group A and 71% of Group B reporting significant improvements in dyspnea levels. Depression scores also improved among both groups, yet only patients in Group A demonstrated an improvement in walking distance.

Study results concluded that both types of home-based exercise programs may improve quality of life in COPD patients who are homebound.

What can you do with this information? If you're homebound, talk with your doctor about having a home health agency evaluate you for in-home physical therapy. Your physical therapist can recommend both aerobic and functional strength training exercises that will allow you to breathe better, which will ultimately lead to a higher quality of life.

Once you begin an exercise program with a physical therapist, it will be easier for you to continue it after your visits are discontinued. The key to any pulmonary rehabilitation program, whether formal or in your home, is to keep up with it once you're on your own. If you stop exercising after your rehabilitation program ends, you're likely to lose all the benefits gained from the program, in a relatively short period of time.


McFarland C, Willson D, Sloan J, Coultas D. A randomized trial comparing 2 types of  in-home rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A pilot study. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2012;35:132-139.

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