Is telerehabilitation a safe and viable option for patients with COPD? A feasibility study

Mara Paneroni, Fausto Colombo, Antonella Papalia, Arcangela Colitta, Gabriella Borghi, Manuela Saleri, Antonella Cabiaglia, Elena Azzalini, Michele Vitacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In patients with COPD non-naïve to rehabilitation we tested the feasibility, adherence and satisfaction of a home-based reinforcement telerehabilitation program (TRP). Outcomes were compared with a standard outpatient rehabilitation program (ORP). Then 18 TRP patients underwent 28 sessions of strength exercises (60 min) and cycle training (40 min) using a satellite platform provided telemonitoring, tele-prescription, video-assistance and phone-calls, patients were equipped with an oximeter, steps-counter, bicycle, remote control and interactive TV software. 18 matched ORP, retrospectively identified from our hospital ORP database, were used as controls. At baseline and end of program, the 6-min walking test (6MWT), Medical Research Council (MRC) scale and Saint George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) were administered. In TRP only, we assessed platform use, incremental exercise, steps walked/day and patient satisfaction. TRP patients completed all sessions without side effects, used the remote control 1,394 ± 2,329 times being in the 84% of the cases satisfied with the service. In 22% of the cases patients found the technology unfriendly. Each health-professional performed 46 ± 65 actions, 14.6 ± 2.12 phone calls and 1 ± 1.67 videoconference sessions per patient. TRP patients increased physical activity (3,412 vs. 1,863 steps/day, p = 0.0002). Both programs produced significant (all, p <0.01) gains in 6MWT meters, TRP +34.22 ± 50.79; ORP +33.61 ± 39.25, dyspnea TRP - 0.72 ± 0.89; ORP - 0.94 ± 0.53 and SGRQ TRP - 6.9 ± 9.96, ORP - 9.9 ± 12.92 without between-group differences. In conclusion, TRP is feasible and well accepted by patients, although sometimes technology was perceived as difficult. It seems to improve walking capacity, dyspnea, quality of life and daily physical activity. Future RCTs will demonstrate cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalCOPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 14 2015


  • Activities of daily living
  • Continuity of care
  • Home care services
  • Physical fitness
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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