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A New Unsupported Upper Limb Exercise Test for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Takahashi, Tetsuya PT, MSc; Jenkins, Sue C. PT, PhD; Strauss, Geoffrey R. MPE; Watson, Carol P. PT; Lake, Fiona R. MD

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention: November-December 2003 - Volume 23 - Issue 6 - p 430-437
Pulmonary Rehabilitation

PURPOSE This study aimed to develop a new unsupported upper limb exercise test (UULEX) for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

METHODS The reproducibility of the UULEX was assessed in nine patients with COPD who performed the test on three occasions. A comparison of the UULEX and a supported incremental upper limb exercise test (SULEX) using an arm ergometer also was performed with 18 patients who had COPD.

RESULTS There were no significant differences in the maximum values for each cardiorespiratory variable and sensation of dyspnea between the three repetitions of the UULEX, and all the variables showed high reproducibility. During the supported test, maximum values for the cardiorespiratory variables were significantly higher, but the ratio of minute ventilation to carbon dioxide output was lower than during the unsupported exercise test. There were significant correlations for cardiorespiratory responses, arm muscle fatigue, and sensation of dyspnea between the two tests.

CONCLUSIONS The findings suggest that the new UULEX test is a reproducible and acceptable exercise test for patients with COPD that can be used as a simple method to evaluate upper limb function in these patients. Further studies are required to determine the external validity of the test and its sensitivity to interventions such as pulmonary rehabilitation.

From the School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University of Technology (Mr Takahashi, Dr Jenkins, Mr Strauss); the Physiotherapy Department, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Dr Jenkins); the Physiotherapy Department, Royal Perth Hospital (Ms Watson); the School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia and Department of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Australia (Dr Lake).

Address correspondence to: Tetsuya Takahashi, Kou 3-12, Kameizumi, Maebashi-shi, Gunma, 371-0004, Japan (e-mail: takahashi.t@cvc.pref.gunma.jp).

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.