Ambulatory oxygen therapy assessment: a comparative study of incremental shuttle and 6-minute walking tests

Lewco A, Marshall J, Garrod R

The incremental shuttle walk test (ISWT) and the 6 minute walk test (6MWT) are recommended in the assessment of ambulatory oxygen for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However there is no evidence that these tests can be used interchangeably.

The objective of this study was to compare ISWT and 6MWT in terms of indication for ambulatory oxygen therapy.  Fifty patients with stable COPD were recruited.  Patients performed both tests separately whilst breathing air. Breathlessness (Borg scale), Sp02 and heart rate were measured pre and post testing.  The mean change in saturation for ISWT and 6MWT was -4.6% and -2.8% respectively. 16 patients met the criteria for ambulatory oxygen.

This study found a wide variation between differences in exercise oxygen desaturation after the ISWT compared with the 6MWT, supporting the premise that these tests should not be used interchangeably.

Physiotherapy 2007, 93 (4): 261-266

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