COPD is a disease that is becoming increasingly widespread as our society ages. The current assumption is that about 13% of those aged over 40 are affected. Most of these are chronic smokers (nicotine abuse) who exhibit a lack of compliance.
Existing evidence-based data indicates that targeted rehabilitation exerts a positive influence on the course of the disease by improving life conditions, delaying progression, reducing the rate of hospitalisation as a result of pneumonia and helping maintain patient autonomy within his or her familiar environment.
Up until now, pulmonological rehabilitation in Germany has taken place within the scope of in-patient treatment programmes (mostly following a stay in hospital).
The first issue is that in-patient rehabilitation is very costly. Secondly, an insufficient number of beds is available for this purpose. In addition, there is no certainty that such a rehabilitation measure will lead to consolidated success (increase in mobility, improvement in physical capability, avoidance of re-hospitalisation).
The consequence is that patients frequently suffer from listlessness and bouts of depression. These amplify the negative impact on the course of the disease.
The changes that have taken place in society constitute a further exacerbating factor. It is now rare to find family groups who have lived in close proximity to one another over several generations. Patients affected are thus left to their own devices and are often widely separated from other family members in terms of distance or time. The latter are left feeling that they are unable to help, and patients are unlikely to be able to generate a sense of self-motivation.
In many cases, symptoms progress to such an extent that ventilation is required or death occurs.
How can we identify those who are potentially affected and take the appropriate preventative action? How can we assist patients and family members in alleviating or preventing progression of the disease, and how can we help the former to maintain their independence?