By Katherine Thomson, OT Reg (ONT)

The challenges of treating a 68 year old woman diagnosed with COPD for the past 5 years involved meeting her requirement for oxygen 24/7 and compensating for a kyphotic spine caused by osteoporosis.

Because the poor posture exacerbates breathing difficulties already present through COPD, she was unable to transport her oxygen, move around, and maintain good posture at the same time. Consequently, she was confined to her apartment.

Strengths and Challenges

Social isolation was causing her to feel depressed, but she is cognitively intact and able to learn new skills. Her balance is also good, although she fatigues easily, has decreased strength and is de-conditioned.

She lives in retirement home with convenient ramped access, no thresholds, and wide doorways. She maintains her independence in all her personal care needs in the home. Her family is supportive and provides transportation to shopping and doctor’s appointments.

These factors made her an ideal candidate for a rollator mobility aid that is used indoor and outdoor, designed with an oxygen tank holder and comfortable seating.

Upright and recovery position

By encouraging her to maintain an upright position while walking, the rollator maximizes chest expansion/excursion and provides support in the “Recovery Position,” which is used to regain breathing control in sitting.

The recovery position allows people to regain control of their breathing after exercise or walking beyond their endurance.

She was taught to sit on her rollator, rest her forearms on the push handles, and take 3 to 4 slow controlled deep breaths. Pursed lip breathing is encouraged. Once rested and breathing control is regained she can then continue with her activity.

Ultimately, she was able to walk further and improve her exercise tolerance using the rollator. She resumed her normal activities at the retirement home and went back to eating in the communal dining area. Her outings no longer revolved only around doctor’s appointments.