The Complete Guide to Pulmonary Rehabilitation

pulmonary rehabilitation

In 85 to 90 percent of cases, smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Over time, the toxins in cigarette smoke lower your lung’s functionality.

Some people quit before it progresses into a life-altering disease. Those that develop lung disease suffer from shortness, frequent respiratory infections, and fatigue. These things can severely impact daily living.

Breathing in harmful fumes and chemicals can also cause COPD. Genetics also play a part in developing this disease.

Most people with chronic lung disease don’t know that there are programs to help. Programs like pulmonary rehab can lead to a more enjoyable life with a chronic condition.

Keep reading to discover all you need to know about pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a combination of diseases that block natural airflow. Living with COPD makes everyday activities a struggle.

Pulmonary rehab is a series of classes to educate you on your lungs and overall health.

At a facility, you receive exercises and information to use once the program is over. It can vastly improve your quality of life and decrease your number of hospital visits over time.

Who Can Use Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehab is for anyone who’s lung disease affects their daily life. If you often experience shortness of breath despite the use of medication, rehab can help.

You do not have to have COPD to qualify. You can benefit from treatment if you have any lung disease or lung-related illness that impairs daily activity.

What to Expect

During rehabilitation, your current health and abilities will be assessed. Your team will take you through a series of tests to evaluate your individual needs. One example of a test that you may be given is the six-minute walk test.

This test evaluates your functionality. It gives your therapist an idea of how much oxygen is moving through your blood. It’s a simple measure that lets a physician know if you need any further testing.

You will be expected to complete 4-5 days of pulmonary training a week. The reason for this rehab multiple times a week is that it is necessary to achieve the maximum benefits.

What Information Do You Recieve?

The exercises you receive in pulmonary rehab will help your lungs and heart work better. Most clinics focus on endurance training. Strength training has added benefits. Be sure to discuss all of the training and exercises with your doctor before beginning.

You will receive a series of breathing, upper body, and lower body exercises. Upper body exercises include lifting hands above the head or turning a crank. The crank has added resistance to help you strengthen your muscles.

Your upper body muscles assist with proper breathing.

Lower body exercises include walking or stair climbing. Strengthening your lower body can significantly improve your overall mobility.

If you have trouble breathing, it could be due to weakened breathing muscles. During rehab, you may receive breathing therapy to strengthen those muscles.

This is performed by blowing into a tube with added resistance.

Without exercise, your lungs and heart become less able to support physical activity.

You will also receive information on your treatment program and what it entails. Knowing the details of your plan can help you recognize problems and get help right away.

Do I Have to Leave My Home?

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is typically performed as an outpatient service. Hospitals and specialized clinics offer it. At a clinic, you will meet other patients with similar health histories.

This supportive environment can make it easier to go through the rehab process.

Most programs have a home-based portion and a supervised portion.

The supervised portion is where your caretaker ensures you are performing the exercises correctly. This is where they educate you on proper health and diet practices.

The home-based portion requires self-monitoring. You are expected to check-in with a physician periodically to ensure continued success.

Completely in-home options are available with the use of the internet. When done correctly and consistently, home-based therapy is just as effective as outpatient therapy.

Who Supervises Your Rehab?

Your rehab program is made up of a team of medical professionals. You will see doctors, nurses, physical and respiratory therapists, dietitians, and exercise specialists.

They all work together to help you thrive while living with lung disease.

If you are rehabbing from home, you will still meet with these professionals to stay on track. 

How to Find the Right Facility

To find treatment for yourself or a loved one, consider your needs. What is your schedule? Will you need somewhere close to home? Is around-the-clock care necessary?

The staff should have a proven track record of professional practice. Don’t be afraid to ask about the programs and the training background of the staff members that will be working with you.

Patient education, safety, and experience should be the priority.

Medicare covers some pulmonary rehabilitation. To get the care you need, check with your health insurance provider to see if your rehab care is covered.

How to Be Successful with Pulmonary Rehab

To retain the benefits of a pulmonary rehab program, you will have to continue to work on your health. Quit smoking if you haven’t and follow the doctor’s exercise and nutrition recommendations.

Pulmonary rehabilitation also works well for people who are frailer. The supervised breathing and exercise programs build strength in a safe environment.

Follow the information your care provider offers.

A balanced diet gives your heart and lungs the nutrition required to keep working. An unused body will atrophy.

Keep up with your prescribed exercise routine to build overall strength. It will give your body the tools it needs to tolerate daily physical activity.

When you can move more, you can do more of the things you love and enjoy. That means more time with your family and friends.

Discover your path to a better life through better treatment. Contact us today.

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