Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program of exercise and education designed to improve the health and well-being of individuals with lung disease. You may meet with various professionals as needed. For example, a respiratory therapist might show you how to use specific treatments and breathing techniques. An occupational therapist might teach you easier ways to do everyday chores. A dietitian might advise you about healthy eating.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is recommended for persons with lung diseases such as chronic pulmonary fibrosis (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma or other chronic pulmonary diseases. Family members are encouraged to participate in the educational sessions.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation consists of three phases:
Phase I: This phase provides information during the acute stages of the illness.
Phase II: This phase involves classes which meet twice each week for monitored exercise and instruction in pulmonary disease management. You'll learn about lung disease, work simplification, coping skills, diet, medications, relaxation and proper breathing techniques. Group exercise session include stretching, flexibility and breathing exercises as well as use of a variety of equipment.
Phase III: This phase provides regular ongoing exercise supervision and support. You may choose to participate in this phase on an ongoing bases.
You may also take part in patient education classes. These are common topics:
- understanding medications, including their benefits, risks, and proper use
- understanding and using oxygen therapy
- quitting smoking
- learning special breathing techniques, such as pursed-lip breathing
- preventing respiratory infections
- managing your weight
To determine your needs, a thorough medical evaluation will be performed. Your team will work closely with your providers. They’ll also talk with you about preventive strategies, such as getting flu and pneumonia vaccines.
You and your team will set goals that are tailored to your situation and the types of activities that are most important to you. If your top priorities are taking care of your house and visiting your friends, you’ll work toward those objectives.
From time to time, you and your team will review your goals. They can help you improve your progress or overcome barriers and explore new treatment options. Together, you’ll find ways to make the most of your life and stay as independent as possible.
While pulmonary rehabilitation will not cure your lung disease, the benefits of the program are numerous. You'll gain confidence in your ability to control your breathing and you'll improve your exercise tolerance, your physical condition, your coping skills and your ability to take care of yourself and maintain independence.