Study objectives: This study was conducted to examine the short-term effects of using a rollator on functional exercise capacity among individuals with COPD and to characterize which individuals benefit most from its use.
Design: Repeated-measures randomized crossover design using the 6-min walk test (6MWT) as the primary outcome measure.
Setting: Respiratory rehabilitation center.
Patients: Forty stable subjects who had received a diagnosis of COPD.
Interventions: Two 6MWTs were performed on each study day. One 6MWT was performed unaided, and the other was performed with a rollator. The order was randomized on the first day and reversed on the second day.
Results: Use of the rollator was associated with a significant reduction in dyspnea (p < 0.001) and duration of rest (reduction for the total group, 19 s; and reduction for those who walked < 300 m unaided, 40 s; p = 0.001) during the 6MWT. For subjects who walked < 300 m unaided, there was also a significant improvement in distance walked (p = 0.02). No changes were found for the measures of cardiorespiratory function or gait (p > 0.05). The requirement to rest during an unaided 6MWT was a significant predictor of improved functional exercise capacity with the use of the rollator (p < 0.005). The majority of subjects whose unaided 6MWT distance was < 300 m preferred using the rollator to walking unaided.
Conclusions: Use of a rollator was effective in improving functional exercise capacity by reducing dyspnea and rest duration among stable individuals with severe COPD. Individuals who walked < 300 m and individuals who required a rest during an unaided 6MWT benefited the most from using a rollator in terms of reduced dyspnea, reduced rest time, and improved distance walked.