The Journal of The Japanese Society of Balneology, Climatology and Physical Medicine
Online ISSN : 1884-3697
Print ISSN : 0029-0343
ISSN-L : 0029-0343
Effect of Spa Therapy on the Six-minute Walk Test in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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2008 Volume 71 Issue 4 Pages 241-249


Our previous studies have shown that spa therapy can reduce subjective symptoms and improve ventilatory function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The aim of this study is to measure the effects of spa therapy on walking distance during the six-minute walk test in patients with COPD. Twenty-five COPD patients hospitalized for pulmonary rehabilitation at our hospital were included in this study. Twenty-two patients were male and 3 patients were female. Two patients had stage I, 9 patients had stage II, and 14 patients had stage III COPD, according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. We offered complex spa therapy (swimming training in a hot spring pool, inhalation of iodine salt solution, and fango therapy) in all patients for 4 weeks. Ventilatory function, six-minute walk distance, oxygen saturation and Borg scale were measured. Vital capacity (VC) was significantly improved by spa therapy at 4 weeks (p<0.05). The values of forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1.0), forced expiratory flow after 75% of expired FVC (FEF75), forced expiratory flow after 50% of expired FVC (FEF50), forced expiratory flow after 25% of expired FVC (FEF25), mean expiratory flow during the middle half of the FVC (FEF25-75), residual volume (RV), functional residual capacity (FRC), peak expiratory flow (PEF) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLco) showed a tendency to increase, however the increase in the 10 parameters was not significant. The values of six-minute walk distance before and after spa therapy were 288±106m and 323±114m, respectively (p<0.05). There was a significant decrease in values of maximum Borg Scale values (p<0.05). The values of minimum oxygen saturation and the values of oxygen saturation at rest slightly increased, but not significantly. The change of six-minute walk distance correlated with change of VC (r=0.545; p<0.05), with change of FVC (r=0.628; p<0.05), with change of FEV1.0 (r=0.559; p<0.05), with change of FEF50 (r=0.480; p<0.05), with change of minimum oxygen saturation (SpO2) (r=0.554; p<0.05) and with change of SpO2 at rest (r=0.445; p<0.05). We found that spa therapy induced improvements in ventilatory dysfunction and six-minute walk distance in patients with COPD. The results from this study reveal that spa therapy may improve disease control and exercise tolerance in patients with COPD.

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