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chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, disease severity, balance assessment, functional effects



  1. Butcher, Scott J. PT, MSc
  2. Meshke, Jaclyn M. BSc
  3. Sheppard, M. Suzanne PT, PhD


PURPOSE: To compare measures of balance, coordination, and mobility between patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and healthy control subjects, and to determine whether differences in these measures are associated with measures of disease severity.


METHODS: The subjects were divided into three groups: 15 patients with COPD who required the use of supplemental oxygen (WO), 15 patients with COPD who did not require the use of supplemental oxygen (NO), and 21 healthy control subjects (CO). The subjects performed spirometry and several measures of balance, coordination, and mobility including the Community Balance and Mobility Scale, the timed up and go test, the fast-gait speed test, posturography, and both a finger-to-nose test and a toe-tapping coordination test. Significance was set at an alpha less than 0.05.


RESULTS: When control was used for age, significant differences were found between the WO group and the CO group for the finger-to-nose test, and for both the sway index and peak sway index for the eyes open, moving-platform test. Differences were found among all three groups for the Community Balance and Mobility Scale overall score. The scores for the WO group were significantly worse than for the NO group on the timed up and go and the fast-gait speed tests. Moderate correlation was found among all of the measures, demonstrating significant differences in forced-expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow, and forced-expiratory volume. When controls were used for both age and FEV1, between-group differences disappeared.


CONCLUSIONS: Patients with COPD exhibit deficiencies in functional balance, coordination, and mobility tasks associated with disease severity or differences in activity levels, but not in the requirement for supplemental oxygen.