Researchers found pulmonary rehab improved physical performance ability, dyspnea, and overall quality of life for COPD patients, according to a study published in the German journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

Pulmonary rehab is an individual, patient-centered therapy program that is based on a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and consists of patient education/training, physical exercise, and behavioral training.

Researchers conducted a literature review of pulmonary rehab studies and found the therapy improved:

  • 6-minute walk distance (+44 meters),
  • Shortness of breath (Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire: +0.79 points), and
  • Quality of life (Saint George´s Respiratory Questionnaire (-6.9 points).

Researchers noted the benefits of PR are especially evident after an acute exacerbation of COPD: it significantly lowers the rate of readmission to the hospital, specifically.

“PR is an effective and cost-effective therapeutic intervention that improves physical performance ability, shortness of breath, and the quality of life in patients with COPD, but it has not yet been fully implemented as recommended in the relevant guidelines,” researchers wrote.


They added that, in Germany, 13.2% of the population older than 40 are affected by COPD. Pulmonary rehab is offered almost exclusively in rehabilitation hospitals and called for therapy to be set up via outpatient services in order to enable targeted referral to tailored services.