Respiratory disease and illness is one of the most prevalent health concerns facing Americans today. These conditions can place harsh limitations on how mobile and active patients can be, even with the aid of oxygen and other types of therapeutic measures. In determining the best course of treatment, as well as the extent and severity of respiratory impairment, a number of metrics and evaluation tools are utilized. One of the most important of these is commonly known as the Six Minute Walk Test, or 6MWT for short. This relatively simple test can be adapted to a variety of purposes, allowing for measuring existing respiratory and ambulatory difficulty, as well as helping create easy reference points for improvement.
The Six Minute Walk Test is primarily measured by calculating the exact distance of which a patient is able to move completely unassisted and without any external motivation, in six minutes. If patients are utilizing mobile oxygen or any other treatment, their equipment should be included with them in the test, so as to give an accurate reading of their mobility under simulated real world conditions. The test should ideally not be performed on any kind of circle or oval track, as this can impact the patient results by providing them an easy mental reference point to shoot for when trying to maximize their distance, which may not reproduce day to day conditions and results.
The primary measure of the degree of success in the Six Minute Walk Test is Six Minute Walk Distance, or 6MWD. This fairly self-explanatory metric measures the exact distance that a patient is able to move unassisted in 6 minutes. Other metrics, such as a pulse oximeter, can also be used during the test in order to work in concert to provide more accurate readings of a patient’s overall health and level of ability.
One of the greatest benefits of the Six Minute Walk Test is helping to quantify the exact improvement in respiratory ability and mobility that patients are afforded by treatments such as O2 therapy or inhaled corticosteroid therapy. By contrasting a patient’s Six Minute Walk Test results before beginning therapy with those results after or during administering a treatment, the extent of the effectiveness of the therapy can be easily measured. By measuring the Six Minute Walk Test results against different iterations of the same test, the most effective course of treatment can even be isolated in very practical terms.
The Six Minute Walk Test is an excellent tool when evaluating a patient’s overall respiratory health and level of mobility. With conditions such as COPD, patients can experience sharp declines in their ability level, and thus, their quality of life. By proactively testing the level of their ability, and their response to different therapy options, patients can take an active role in ensuring that they are getting a clear picture of their overall health, and choosing the right course of treatment.
If you or someone you know are experiencing respiratory distress or difficulty breathing, contact Aeroflow Healthcare today. We offer a wide array of treatment options such as oxygen, nebulizers, and mobility aids. Call Aeroflow Healthcare today at 888.345.1780 to speak with one of our friendly Customer Service Representatives and find out what treatment is right for you. Changes in your health often mean changes in your lifestyle, but they do not have to mean compromises to your quality of life.