Pulmonary Rehabilitation After Hospitalization for COPD: The PROPEL Study

Posted on September 06, 2017   |   
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What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program of education and exercise classes that teaches you about your lungs, how to exercise and do activities with less difficulty breathing, and how to "live better” with your lung condition. Many studies have shown that people with COPD who complete a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program are less short of breath, are able to walk further, feel stronger, and have better quality of life. These health benefits are usually greater than those from any other COPD therapy.

What are some of the challenges of Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

PulmonaryRehabilitation Unfortunately, about 9 in 10 people with COPD do not complete pulmonary rehabilitation. There are many reasons. Some people do not have pulmonary rehabilitation programs close to their homes, or have difficulty getting to and from the program. Others have too much already going on in their lives to attend pulmonary rehabilitation. There is usually a co-pay since insurance does not cover the full cost of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation After Hospitalization for COPD: The PROPEL Study

With the help of many people and organizations, the COPD Foundation hopes to develop and test a “next generation” pulmonary rehabilitation program (NextGen Pulmonary Rehabilitation). If it is shown that such a program can reduce hospitalizations and prolong life, it may be possible that similar programs could be covered by insurance and become more widely available. We are planning the PROPEL Study to evaluate NextGen Pulmonary Rehabilitation and are trying to find out whether people with COPD would be willing to join. We are requesting funding from the National Institutes of Health and need to provide evidence that a sufficient number of people would volunteer for the study.


People would be eligible whether or not they have previously participated in Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The PROPEL Study will specifically involve people who have been hospitalized with a COPD-related illness.


The study will ask people to agree to participate in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program starting a few weeks after hospital discharge and lasting about a year, with sessions occurring an average of 2 times a week for 3 months, and then 2 times a month for 9 months.

People with COPD who join the PROPEL Study will be also asked to attend three evaluation sessions during the year, each lasting about half a day. In addition, you would participate in phone interviews every three months. These evaluation sessions and phone interviews are needed to measure the health effects of the NextGen Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.



  • The rehabilitation program would be provided at no charge
  • Transportation would be provided if needed
  • A modest compensation would be provided for the time spent participating in evaluation sessions and phone interviews
  • Each patient’s personal doctor would be involved in medical treatment decisions


Please complete the survey regarding the PROPEL Study here.

Please note that your survey responses do not obligate you to participate in the PROPEL Study.


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  • How can people find a pulmonary rehabilitation program near home?
    • J Krishnan,

      I am not sure if you are asking as it pertains to this study or just in general.

      If you are interested for yourself outside of this study you will need a prescription from your doctor. Most likely your doctor will know however I would do my own research. I learned the hard way that not all programs are created equal. Google Pulmonary Rehabilitation your town, your state, it will list facilities in your area. Some have a AACVPR certification which might be an indicator that it has a better program.

    • Rehab is for life (in more ways than one). Building the habits and staying motivated isn't always easy. More than once my pulmo has commented that most of her patients either don't finish PR or don't continue with any kind of a maintenance program. It isn't easy but it is so important. PR (and beyond) has been my best medicine. Please seriously consider this study; free rehab, free transportation to rehab, this is a win win for anyone that participates.
  • I would be very interested in this, however, the survey is closed.
    • I find this to be interesting. A local hospital sent me information about that study.
      However,there was no mention of COPD..only on the postcard was the number to call,to see if you qualify.When I say oxygen most studies say no.