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Computer game helps COPD patients breathe better
Date:4/15/2008

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may gain better control over their breathing and breathe more efficiently by using their breath to play a computer game, according to new research.

COPD is a double-edged sword: the incapacitating lung condition can cause such serious shortness of breath that every-day physical activity, such as walking a flight of stairs, becomes unduly burdensomeand yet one of the few effective symptomatic treatments for COPD is the very thing that its victims dread most: exercise, said leading researcher Eileen G. Collins, Ph.D., of the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois and UIC. This computerized program is still in the research stages, but shows promise for future use in pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

The results of this randomized, controlled study appeared in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

COPD patients with the greatest disability are also those most likely to be unable to exercise long enough to reap the benefits rehabilitation can offer them. One of the key mechanisms of shortness of breath and exercise impairment in these patients, Dr. Collins said, is their inability to fully exhale air when active. This phenomenon causes trapping of air in the lungsi.e., dynamic hyperinflationand diminishes the patients breathing efficiency.

Dr. Collins and colleagues designed a randomized, controlled trial, the first of its kind, to test whether this computer program could decrease the extent of air trapping during exercise and thus improve the results of rehabilitation in COPD patients. Our primary goal was to determine if patients with COPD would achieve longer exercise duration if they were engaged in ventilation feedback, in addition to the regular exercise program over either ventilation feedback or exercise alone, said Dr. Collins.

A total of 64 patients
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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