Less than 2% of COPD Patients Can Access Rehab Programs
Marked shortfall in Canada between capacity and need for respiratory services
TORONTO, March 12 /CNW/ - While the number of respiratory rehabilitation programs in Canada has doubled in the last five years, a new study by researchers at West Park Healthcare Centre shows that less than two per cent of people with a debilitating lung disease could access programs proven to significantly improve their lives.
The study, published today in the Canadian Respiratory Journal, examined the national capacity for rehabilitation of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. There is no cure and the disease gets progressively worse, but patients can significantly improve their quality of life with rehabilitation programs.
"Our patients are breathless, but not helpless," says Dr. Roger Goldstein, a Respirologist at West Park Healthcare Centre, expert in COPD and co-author of the study. "Through rehabilitation programs, COPD patients can learn simple techniques that help them regain their mobility and independence."
"Recommended services include supervised exercise training, education self-management, as well as psychological and social support," said Dr. Dina Brooks, Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, a West Park Research Associate and co-author of the study. "These types of services are inexpensive compared to the economic burden on the Canadian health care system from patients without access to rehabilitation services."
The study, based on a 2005 survey of healthcare facilities across Canada, concluded that 60 facilities offered 98 pulmonary rehabilitation programs, with 41 of those programs located in Ontario. The total capacity for all of the programs was 8,927 people per year - about 1.2 per cent of the estimated 750,000 Canadians diagnosed with COPD.
Compared to a similar study in 1999, the recent survey showed significant growth in the number of pulmonary rehabilitation programs, doubling from 44 programs to 98. The most significant increases have been in Ontario (23 to 41 programs), Quebec (four to 21 programs) and Alberta (three to eight programs).
"Despite this improvement, Canada is still woefully under-serviced in rehabilitation programs that are vital to people living with COPD," says Nora Sobolov, President and CEO of the Canadian Lung Association. "This study highlights the urgent need for continued investment in rehabilitation programs throughout Canada."
COPD represents a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.
Also involved in the study were: Rebecca Sottana, Barbara Bell, Mary Hanna, Lisanne Laframboise and Sugi Selvanayagarajah.
West Park Healthcare Centre provides specialized rehabilitation, complex continuing care and long-term care, helping people overcome their health barriers, to live the fullest lives possible after an illness or injury. The centre is recognized internationally for its expertise and research in respiratory rehabilitation for those with chronic respiratory diseases and its care of those with tuberculosis.
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