Pulmonary rehabilitation, or pulmonary rehab, is an outpatient service for people with chronic lung disease. Through education and exercise, you are given the support needed to succeed in developing a healthier lifestyle, increasing your level of activity, and lessening your shortness of breath.
Pulmonary rehab programs are staffed by specially trained medical professionals to assist you in managing and living with your specific lung condition.
Who is eligible?
Patients referred for pulmonary rehab have one of the following:
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Chronic bronchitis
- Lung transplant
- Lung cancer
- Cystic fibrosis
- Interstitial lung disease
- Other lung-related conditions
This is a service that is covered by most insurers and is offered at a time that is convenient for you. Pulmonary rehab typically runs 8 to 12 weeks, two days a week for 60 to 90 minutes.
What will I do?
While you are at pulmonary rehab, a professional staff of exercise physiologists, nurses, and respiratory therapists will complete a detailed interview, brief physical exam, and a comprehensive review of your medical history. A registered dietitian also may be involved. Based on this information, an individualized exercise and health improvement plan will be designed to help you meet your personal health improvement goals.
At pulmonary rehab, your oxygen levels will be monitored and your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked as needed. In addition, at each visit staff will ask you about signs and symptoms of pulmonary distress and review your progress.
An individualized program of aerobic and resistance exercise is very important. A small increase in activity will help improve the functioning of your heart and lungs, allowing them to work together more efficiently. As you become fit, your muscles will use oxygen more efficiently so your heart and lungs will not need to work as hard. With this and using light weights to strengthen your muscles, you will be able to do more with less shortness of breath and fatigue.
What are the benefits?
Pulmonary rehab will help you gain the knowledge and techniques that will improve your overall health and put you in control of your life. Through one-on-one sessions and demonstrations, staff will teach you what you need to know to manage your lung condition and optimize its recovery and/or management. The topics that may be covered include:
- Understanding COPD
- Medication and proper use of inhalers
- Breathing techniques that help reduce anxiety and distress when short of breath
- Energy conservation and pacing
- Nutritional counseling
- Smoking cessation techniques
- Weight management techniques
- Stress management techniques