What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Chronic lung disease can turn simple tasks of daily living into a struggle. Walking, climbing stairs, performing household chores, and even sleeping are often hindered by shortness of breath. Left untreated, chronic lung disease can have a severe impact on your mental health, as well; according to a study by the National Institutes of Health, up to 55% of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develop mental health disorders related to their lung condition.

To improve your breathing – and your quality of life – your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of education, exercise, and ongoing support designed to help you manage your breathing problems, improve your lung function, and increase your stamina so you can get back to living a full, satisfying life.

Who needs pulmonary rehabilitation?

Anyone with chronic, ongoing lung disease can benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation. This means people with COPD, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as those with cystic fibrosis or interstitial lung diseases, such as sarcoidosis. People undergoing lung surgery may also use pulmonary rehabilitation to prepare for and recover from the procedure. Whether you’re struggling with the onset of a lung condition or you’re in the more advanced stages, pulmonary rehab can help you breathe easier.

What does pulmonary rehabilitation entail?

Before a course of treatment can begin, your doctor will evaluate your current lung function through a series of breathing tests, as well as a comprehensive physical exam. Once your baseline has been established, a team of healthcare providers will work together to develop a treatment plan that’s customized to your needs.

Pulmonary rehabilitation program plans vary from person to person, but most include the following:

  • Breathing techniques

Through breathing exercises and one-on-one training, you’ll learn strategies for breathing efficiently and increasing the strength of your breathing muscles.

  • Exercise sessions

While shortness of breath can impact your ability to exercise, your pulmonary rehabilitation team works with you to gradually build your endurance.

  • Oxygen administration

Some patients benefit from oxygen therapy during pulmonary rehabilitation. If this is part of your treatment plan, your healthcare providers will help dose you with oxygen and teach you how to make the most of it.

  • Education

An important part of pulmonary rehabilitation is learning how to manage your illness so you can remain healthy and avoid situations that exacerbate your symptoms. Topics of educational sessions often include nutrition, medication management, and trigger identification.

  • Counseling

Because of the high correlation between chronic lung disease and mental health disorders, psychological counseling and emotional support groups are built into most pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

What are the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation?

The most obvious benefit of pulmonary rehabilitation is the improved ability to breathe. Pulmonary rehab helps minimize shortness of breath and increase the oxygen flowing through your body, so you can be participate in—and enjoy—more activities of daily living.

You’ll also likely experience:

  • Increased exercise stamina

  • More energy

  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety or depression

  • Greater independence

  • Fewer hospitalizations

  • Better overall quality of life

Where is pulmonary rehabilitation administered?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is generally offered as an outpatient service in hospitals or clinics, or as an inpatient program in a skilled nursing facility. The rehab team consists of a variety of healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, and physical therapists, all working together to ensure you get the most out of your treatment.

Bella Vista Health Center offers pulmonary rehabilitation in San Diego

If you’re searching for a reputable, caring pulmonary rehabilitation team, Bella Vista Health Center is here to help. Our five-star skilled nursing facility offers fully customized rehab programs to residents with the goal of getting them back to living happy, healthy, independent lives.

Whether you’re struggling with a chronic condition or an acute illness, Bella Vista can help you breathe better. Call us at (619) 399-7920 for more information about our pulmonary rehabilitation program.