A group of researchers from Toronto, Ontario found that balance training can lead to improved muscle strength and self-reported physical function in patients with moderate to severe COPD. The findings, which were published in CHEST Journal, also report that balance training could be a beneficial addition to pulmonary rehabilitation.
For the study, investigators recruited 39 COPD patients with a history of falls or near-falls. Of the participants, 21 began taking part in balance training sessions three times per week for 6 weeks, in addition to the inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program. The balance training included stance exercises, transition exercises, gait exercises, and functional strengthening, which increased in difficulty as the patient’s ability progressed.
The remaining 18 participants were the control, and continued with the standard rehab.
Similar improvements were seen between groups for the 6-minute walk test, but those receiving balance training experienced significantly greater improvements in measures of balance, lower-extremity strength, and self-reported physical function than those in the control group.
All patients who received balance training reported that their balance improved, compared to only 11.8% among the controls.