40 Percent Of COPD Patients Reside At Long Distances From The Rehabs

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : May 21, 2021

Lung rehab can enhance the quality of life for adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), however up to 40% of COPD senior citizens in the United States may not have access to these treatments, owing to a shortage of nearby facilities.

40 Percent Of COPD Patients Reside At Long Distances From The Rehabs

COPD refers to a group of chronic lung disorders that make breathing difficult, such as bronchitis and emphysema. COPD, which is frequently caused by smoking, has no cure and is usually treated with drugs that help with breathing. According to the American Lung Association, more than 16 million Americans are affected by its crippling consequences.

40 Percent Of COPD Patients Reside At Long Distances From The Rehabs

Treatment is supported by pulmonary rehabilitation programs, which include exercise and education about the disease. Classes are often held 2 to 3 times a week for 4 to 12 weeks or longer. Sessions might take place at home or in a hospital.

However, when researchers compared the Locations of 10.3 million Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with COPD between 1999 and 2018 to those of over 1,700 pulmonary rehab institutions, they discovered that many people live very far away and take advantage of these benefits.

The survey discovered that just 61.5 % of people lived within 10 miles of a treatment clinic. 74 % lived within 15 miles of one, over 87 % lived within 25 miles, and 97 % lived within 50 miles.

Patients with Copd may be missing out on the advantages of pulmonary rehabilitation due to a lack of accessibility and understanding, according to research author Dr. Malla, who is a doctorate student in epidemiology, Alabama University, Birmingham.

According to earlier studies, patients who reside more than 10 miles from a pulmonary rehabilitation clinic are less than half as likely to participate as those who live nearby, as explained by Malla. According to the findings of the study, access is significantly poorer in small towns and rural regions.

A quarter of COPD patients reside in smaller towns, suburban areas, or rural regions, where there is about one rehabilitation facility for every 4,300 COPD patients. A pulmonary rehab clinic is still within 10 miles of around 73 percent of patients with COPD in urban regions, compared to slightly more than 38 percent in smaller cities and around 17 percent in small towns or rural regions.

Specialists on COPD are becoming increasingly worried about the lack of accessibility to these programs. Dr. Make, who is the head of the COPD program at National Jewish Health, Denver, believes that pulmonary rehabilitation can help save lives.

It’s much more than strolling or pedaling. It’s about strengthening and educating people about eating properly, taking the medication correctly, and remembering when to visit a doctor if they have a COPD episode so they can get treated early and avoid ending up in the hospital, according to Make.

According to Dr.Schachter, who is a professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC, the life quality advantages of pulmonary rehabilitation are tremendous.

These initiatives deal with patients who have significant limits in daily routines and assist them to get to the point in which they have a quality of life that they did not have earlier, he added. The latest findings, according to Schachter, did not surprise him.

Because they are non-profit organizations, there are few programs and no incentive to enroll patients, according to Schachter. Increasing the amount at which insurers pay for them and publicizing the advantages may help to increase accessibility.

A hybrid strategy, in which some sessions are conducted through videoconferencing and some in person, may allow more individuals to profit from these programs.

Many rehab programs have closed because of the COVID-19 epidemic, and patients with long-term COVID may require assistance, according to both lung specialists.

According to Schachter, many COVID survivors have damaged lungs and are unable to regain their previous pulmonary function. Long-term COVID may cause long-term respiratory dysfunction that will need therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation will most likely be the route to healing.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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