Telerehabilitation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a highly effective treatment for people with chronic respiratory disease that improves quality of life and reduces hospital admissions. It consists of exercise training and education that is delivered in a group setting. Access to these programs is often limited by debilitating symptoms and inability to travel. As a result, less than 10% of people who need pulmonary rehabilitation ever undertake this program.

Telerehabilitation, where supervised rehabilitation is delivered directly into the home using broadband technology, has potential to improve access to this important treatment. If telerehabilitation is to be adopted in clinical practice it must use a cost effective model where multiple patients can be treated at once, similar to the group setting where pulmonary rehabilitation is traditionally delivered. This project has optimised a multi-participant telerehabilitation model via video conferencing, which can support six patients and a clinician using common network conditions and a readily available videoconferencing solution.

The next step is to utilise this telerehabilitation model in hospital-to-IBES laboratory trials, with the clinician based at Austin Health. This trial solution provides the opportunity to mimic 'real-world' implementation requirements of telerehabilitation and developed scope for adoption of the model into clinical practice. To further enhance the application of our model to the clinical setting, a pulse oximetry app has been developed, which provides real-time feedback of the physiological responses of patients during rehabilitation sessions. This will assist clinicians to monitor individuals during home-based programs.

Overall, this project will define a real-time multi-participant telerehabilitation model that will provide access to a low-cost, easily accessible and viable model of pulmonary rehabilitation for individuals with chronic lung disease.


  • Christine McDonald - Institute for Breathing & Sleep
  • Peter Rochford - Institute for Breathing & Sleep
  • Ken Clarke - Melbourne Networked Society Institute
  • Noot Fang - IBES
  • Anne Holland - LaTrobe University
  • Alice Watson - LaTrobe University
  • Doug Farmer - AARNet


IBES Seed Funding 2013


December 2014