Pulmonary rehabilitation programs

What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program for people with chronic respiratory disorders who have symptoms of breathlessness and a decreased ability to perform the activities of daily life. Programs are individually tailored and designed to improve physical and social wellbeing. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs have been shown to help people breathe easier, improve their quality of life and stay out of hospital.

What are the benefits?

Following pulmonary rehabilitation, most people report that they are able to do more in their daily activities, and are less out of breath during the tasks.

Some of the many benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation include:

1. Increased physical fitness & functioning 2. Reduced breathlessness 3. Improved quality of life 4. Improved mood and motivation 5. Improved knowledge of lung condition 6. Improved ability to manage lung condition 7. Increased participation in everyday activities 8. Reduced hospital admissions 9. Reduced length of stay in hospital

Who attends pulmonary rehabilitation?

In general, pulmonary rehabilitation programs are suitable for people who have a chronic lung disease like COPD, ILD, and Chronic Bronchitis etc. They show symptoms of breathlessness and reduced physical activity.

What does the program include?

The program consists of an individual assessment followed by exercise training and education. Typically programs run for at least 6-8 weeks with 3 exercise sessions per week, and an education component attached. The exercise focuses on increasing your physical activity, and the education will assist you in managing your condition, by providing knowledge in such areas as breathing techniques, using your medicines and energy conservation.

What’s involved in the exercise?

Your exercise program will be planned based on your initial assessment and the goals you want to achieve. The physiotherapist or exercise physiologist will recommend the intensity, duration, frequency and type of exercise you should do. Normally each exercise session will consist of a warm-up followed by some aerobic exercise, some strengthening exercises for your arms and legs and a cool down. The aerobic exercise may include walking, cycling or stepping. Walking is a really important element, as many aspects of daily life involve walking. Your exercise may be continuous or in an interval format. Intervals mean that you can stop and rest to recover during the exercise. Over the weeks, your exercises will be progressed, as you get fitter and stronger. You will not be asked to do anything that you are not comfortable with.

Exercise training is an essential part of the pulmonary rehabilitation as it can help to reverse this “cycle of inactivity and breathlessness”. Exercise itself cannot reverse COPD, but it can change the way you feel, breathe, and function. Improved exercise tolerance means activities such as showering; walking or gardening may become easier after completing this program, which leads to an improved quality of life and greater independence. If your health care professional has told you to use oxygen with activity, you should also use oxygen with exercise. Ask your health care provider how to set your oxygen for exercise.

What education topics are important?

The education component of each pulmonary rehabilitation program is different. Some of the topics may include:

1. Medication 2. Inhalation techniques 3. Oxygen therapy 4. Breathing techniques and retraining 5. Benefits of exercise and health living 6. Disease education 7. Information on how the lungs work 8. Energy conservation techniques 9. Nutrition/ healthy eating

Will it be safe for me to attend?

Yes. Pulmonary rehabilitation is very safe. Once you have medical clearance for exercise, the assessment and individualized prescribed exercise program ensures you are exercising at a safe level that is appropriate for your current health status.

What happens when I’ve finished Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

At the completion of pulmonary rehabilitation you will be encouraged to continue exercising at home, so that you maintain the benefits you gained from the program. If you find it difficult to motivate yourself or would enjoy some company as you exercise, you may prefer to join a suitable community-based group exercise program.