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Previous work has shown that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) demonstrate changes in their gait biomechanics as compared to controls. This pilot study was designed to explore the possibility that biomechanical alterations present in COPD patients might be amenable to treatment by exercise training of skeletal muscle. This study investigated the effect of a 6-week exercise intervention on gait biomechanics in patients with COPD under both a rest and a non-rested condition. Seven patients with COPD underwent a supervised cardio-respiratory and strength training protocol 2-3 times per week for 6-weeks for a total of 16-sessions. Spatiotemporal, kinematic and kinetic gait variables were collected prior to and post intervention. All patients demonstrated significant improvements in strength following the intervention. The knee joint biomechanics demonstrated a significant main effect for intervention and for condition. Step width demonstrated a significant interaction as it decreased from pre- to post-intervention under the rest condition and increased under the non-rested condition. It does appear that being pushed (non-rested) has a strong influence at the knee joint. The quadriceps muscles, the primary knee extensors, have been shown to demonstrate muscular abnormalities in patients with COPD and the intervention may have influenced gait patterns through an effect on this skeletal muscle structure and function. Additionally, the intervention influenced step width closer to a more healthy value. Patients with COPD are more likely to fall and step width is a risk factor for falling suggesting the intervention may address fall risk. Whether a longer duration intervention would have more profound effects remains to be tested.

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from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of The COPD Foundation





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Biomechanics Commons