Rehabilitation of adults with asthma : A quantitative and qualitative study

Abstract: The general aim of this study was to evaluate the objective and subjective effects of a comprehensive rehabilitation program for adult asthmatic patients. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used.Fifty-eight physically inactive patients with moderate to mild asthma underwent a 10-week rehabilitation program with emphasis on physical training in water or on land and were followed up for 3 years. All patients sustained the high-intensity training during the 10 weeks. No exercise-induced asthma (EIA) or late asthmatic reaction occurred. After the training the cardiovascular condition was improved, and the airway reactivity, asthma symptoms, and the tendency to develop EIA were reduced. The lung function was significantly improved in the patients who had exercised in water and slightly reduced in those who had exercised on land.During 3 years of follow-up, 39 patients (68%) exercised regularly at least once a week. The majority of the patients had become far more physically active in daily life. Both the cardiovascular capacity and the lung function parameters were maintained between the l0-week program and the 3-year test. The number of patients with EIA decreased, as did asthma symptoms. emergency room visits, and the need for medication. The negative impact of asthma on daily life decreased when the patients learnt how to manage the disease. Both increased knowledge and better practical skills - in relaxation, breathing and inhalation - together with the positive experience of physical training contributed to this improvement.In conclusion, rehabilitation including physical training should be recommended to inactive asthmatic patients. Patient education combined with exercise training can contribute to improvement of the physical condition and state of health, better asthma control and a more physically active life-style.

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