(Toronto) Perhaps one of the most difficult elements of successful rehabilitation is ensuring improvement
continues when patients return back to the community.
A research trial at West Park is focusing on a unique way to try and ensure continued improvement and early results and expansion of the study show researchers are on to something big.
The study is a randomized controlled trial of a postrehabilitation community-based exercise program for individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Headed by Dr. Roger Goldstein and Dr. Dina Brooks, it aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a post-rehabilitation community-based exercise program for individuals with COPD and compare the outcomes with those achieved through standard care.
Individuals living with COPD show significant improvements following a formal rehabilitation program. But these improvements can diminish because of decreased participation once they leave the hospital setting, a decline in health status, and an increased need to access the healthcare system.
The project began through a partnership with the City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation department. Starting
with one community centre in west Toronto, the project has now expanded to three other community centres in Toronto and one in Ajax. The hope is to expand into Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill and other communities.
In the program, COPD patients take part in twiceweekly exercises at a local community centre. They still have access to a healthcare case manager if needed but their exercises are overseen by a specially trained fitness instructor.
“The innovative part of this project is that we are moving the maintenance part of the program out of the medical, institutional domain into the community,” says Dr. Goldstein. “We feel that patients exercising in a local community centre are more likely to maintain their program. They will be close to home and they will be exercising in an environment of health and wellness, rather than an environment of illness.”
The project has shown great results so far, says Dr. Brooks. “We have shown the effectiveness of a number of
interventions that have now been incorporated and have become part of the care of individuals with COPD.”
The study has also received other significant affirmations.
On Jan. 31 Dr. Goldstein and Dr. Brooks received the Ontario Lung Association - Pfizer Canada COPD/Smoking Cessation Award, worth $50,000 towards the study.
“Lung research is an area that’s underfunded and having partners like Pfizer and the (Ontario) Lung Association to help us do these very important studies is critical to not just the research community but really for the clinical community and ultimately the patients themselves to improve the lives,” says Dr. Brooks.
And there is still much work to be done, says Dr. Goldstein. “For the next five years we have plenty to do. Tackling the best techniques for rehabilitation, the best duration of the program, how to measure exercise and activity and playing our part in answering some of these questions.”