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Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD – A Brief Guide

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a specialized health program designed for people with breathing-related issues, such as COPD and lung cancer, to help enhance their quality of life. The goal is to help participants learn new skills to cope with their medical condition and supervise exercise regimes to help increase their lung strength.

If you suffer from COPD, joining a pulmonary rehabilitation program can help you with your simple daily activities, including taking out the trash and getting your mail without losing your breath.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation – A Brief Overview

Pulmonary rehabilitation is essentially a supervised breathing exercise and education program that caters to the needs of chronic lung disease patients. It doesn’t aim to cure lung disease, but it will make it easier for people to live with it. You may notice the difference as more lung strength, lesser breathing problems, and an enhanced quality of life.

Any individual with a long-term lung disease may benefit from joining a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Some of the common lung diseases that the program can target include –

● Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
● Asthma
● Pulmonary Hypertension
● Cystic Fibrosis
● Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (Due to Lung Transplantation)
● Lung Cancer or Lung Cancer Surgery
● Interstitial Lung Disease (Pulmonary Fibrosis and Sarcoidosis)

What are the Objectives of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD?

Pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD has three primary objectives –

1. Coping with breathlessness or shortness of breath
2. Improving the quality of life
3. Enhancing the ability to perform daily activities, such as going out with family or doing household chores

What are the Advantages of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD?

There are a myriad of benefits that you can incur from joining a pulmonary rehabilitation program for COPD. Let’s look at them –

● You may experience fewer symptoms associated with COPD, such as less shortness of breath and less coughing spurts.
● You might feel less fatigued.
● You might exercise better and/or walk more.
● You may feel less anxious and/or feel better emotionally.
● You might visit the hospital less often.
● You may notice an improvement in your quality of life.

What Can You Expect When Joining a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program for COPD?

Respiratory therapists, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, dieticians, physicians, and spiritual advisors usually manage A pulmonary rehabilitation program. On your first visit, a team will sit with you to understand your condition and needs to design a personalized program. Some of the core aspects of any pulmonary rehabilitation program include the following –

Assessment – Your pulmonary rehabilitation team, including nurses and other healthcare providers, will perform a stress test to measure your oxygen level, heart rate, and blood pressure. Pulmonary function tests that aim to test your walking and breathing will follow these tests, measuring how far you’re able to walk in six minutes. The goal of these assessments is to tailor a personalized program for you.
Education They will teach you different subjects that help you manage your chronic lung disease.
Exercise – They will teach you different physical and breathing exercises that increase your stamina and strength.
Nutrition – You get to learn about different foods, especially the ones you should eat and avoid in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Psychosocial – You will be taught to deal with the emotional and mental components associated with COPD.

During the program, you are expected to meet one-on-one with the staff and in groups.

How Does Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD Work?

Because of COPD, your muscles will become weak. These essential muscles involved in moving and breathing require to be restrengthened. With a customized exercise program, you will increase your endurance and strength. Experts will educate you about your health condition, which will include –

● Managing the symptoms.
● Dealing with shortness of breath.
● Using respiratory medicine for treating COPD.
● Using home medical equipment whenever necessary.
● Making good nutritional choices for managing weight.

During your exercise sessions, your staff will curate a plan after taking your strengths, weaknesses, and needs into consideration. You may begin with stretching and then go on a treadmill or stationary bicycle or even exercise while you are sitting.

They will expect you to build your strength with the help of light weights. By doing regular exercise, you will increase your strength and stamina, making it easier for you to get by throughout the day.

Your pulmonary rehabilitation program may include support groups or counseling to help manage your emotional, mental, and physical health.

How Often Are You Expected to Go for Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD?

Typically, pulmonary rehabilitation programs are conducted in an outpatient healthcare center or a local hospital. You are expected to attend the program twice a week for four to 12 weeks, and maybe more.

Some programs allow in-home sessions. It is crucial that you attend all the sessions to make the most out of your program. It won’t be easy in the beginning and will take some time for you to adjust, but it will get better for you after some time. You can talk to your healthcare provider to find out more about a local pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD Effective?

If you’ve got COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation can be highly effective. Through the different breathing and exercise techniques, you will find it easier to breathe while walking inside your home and outside to perform regular activities.

The results are best when you continue doing the exercises after the program ends. You should also apply the skills you learn to manage your symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

Are There Risks Associated with Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD?

There may be a few risks involved with pulmonary rehabilitation, but they’re extremely rare. You will notice signs of breathlessness, but they will carefully monitor your program to ensure you don’t overstrain yourself.

You may also have sore muscles caused by regular exercise, especially at the beginning of the program. However, it will subside after some time, leaving you feeling more energized than before.

How Much Would Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD Cost?

Medicare and other insurances usually cover pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD. However, the costs of your program will be different based on the type of insurance coverage and program you plan to attend.

Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation Right For You?

It recommended pulmonary rehabilitation programs for patients with chronic lung disease. However, talk to your healthcare provider about whether it is right for you. After monitoring your vitals and making assessments, your team will determine whether you’re the right candidate for pulmonary rehabilitation.

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8 Responses
  1. […] Pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD typically combines education and exercise to provide you with the tools necessary for managing COPD. The exercises include strength training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility training – all meant to enhance your lung function, reduce the severity of symptoms, and increase the quality of your life. […]