Investigators Explore COPD Walking Aids' Benefits

Walking, an activity taken for granted by many, doesn't come easy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Dutch researchers are trying to change this, and have assessed the most beneficial walking aids, identifying which types work best during daily outdoor walking.

Walking, an activity taken for granted by many, doesn’t come easy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Dutch researchers are trying to change this, and have assessed the beneficial most walking aids, identifying which types work best during daily outdoor walking.

Typically, the research on the performance of walking aids like the rollator or draisine involves a six-minute walking test for COPD patients. However, the press release pointed out previous research had not looked at walking aids’ effect on daily outdoor walking, which is the most common issue for COPD patients during physical activity.

For their study recently published in Respirology, COPD patients underwent three walking tests for two days in a row. The first test required the participant to walk without an aid while tests two and three required them to either use a rollator or draisine. The authors noted each test concluded when a patient could no longer continue or after a 30-minute period.

From their analysis, the team found the rollator led to the longest walking time and distance (P&thinsp;<&thinsp;0.05 vs. unaided and draisine). Comparatively, the draisine was not as effective, as patients walked longer and further without any aid (P&thinsp;<&thinsp;0.05). However, the tool was believed beneficial for walking speed, fewer and longer strides, and higher step and stride variability (P&thinsp;<&thinsp;0.05 vs. unaided and rollator).

The investigators believed their study highlighted the rollator as the most beneficial outdoor walking aid for patients with moderate-to-advanced COPD, while the draisine has setbacks compared to simply walking.

"Patients with COPD walked significantly further and longer during unaided walking compared with draisine-aided walking," lead author of the study, Anouk Vaes, said in a statement.