The Basics of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Chronic Lung Diseases

Posted on: February 1st, 2022 by hhmin

What is pulmonary rehabilitation?  

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise, therapy and education program for people with chronic lung disease that makes it hard for them to breathe. It helps to rebuild fitness and reduce the severity of their symptoms.


Who is pulmonary rehabilitation for?

People with lung conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma are candidates for pulmonary rehabilitation. Doctors also recommend it for those with muscular dystrophy, scoliosis, cystic fibrosis, or other health problems that limit their lung function. This form of rehabilitation may also be needed before and after lung surgery.


Where is pulmonary rehabilitation administered?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is typically an outpatient program in a hospital or clinic. It’s delivered by a specialist team of doctors, nurses, therapists, nutritionists and social workers. After you’ve been going for a while, you may be able to do some of the exercises at home. Make sure to check with your health care team that you’re ready to start an exercise routine yourself.


What are the benefits and risks of pulmonary rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps you feel in control of your lung disease. By exercising your lungs and muscles, you’ll become stronger and more active. You’ll be less out of breath and find it easier to manage daily activities such as work, social outings and activities you enjoy. This type of therapy rarely poses a risk of injuries or other problems.  


What can you expect during a session?

Your rehabilitation program will likely be a series of two to three weekly sessions over a period of several weeks or months. A health care provider will design a plan for lung therapy based on your overall health, the health of your lungs, your age and other factors. To do so, they will test your oxygen, blood pressure and heart rate while you exercise, and perform a series of tests to check your breathing. They’ll measure and compare your lung function at the beginning and end of the program to see if your breathing has improved.

  • Exercises: You’ll have a personalized exercise plan to help your lungs and heart work better. Most plans include leg and arm workouts to improve your endurance and muscle strength. These may be simple strengthening movements for your arms and legs or use fitness equipment such as a treadmill or exercise bike.    
  • Breathing techniques: You may learn specific breathing techniques such as yoga breathing, blowing into a mouthpiece or use a computer to learn to control your breath. These techniques teach you how to avoid feeling out of breath when you are active or under stress.
  • Education: Your health care team will help you understand your treatment plan, including using an inhaler the right way. They will also teach you how to avoid situations that make your symptoms worse and how to avoid infections. They may also teach you how to “save your breath” while doing everyday tasks that involve bending, reaching, and lifting and how to control and manage your lung disease. If you smoke, your team may be able to help you give up the habit.  
  • Counseling: Emotional support is vital for anyone affected by a chronic disease. Stress can take up energy and affect your breathing, so learning how to control stress is vital. Individual or group counseling is helpful in managing emotions and keeping a positive outlook.
  • Nutritional guidance: Depending on your situation, you may work with a nutritionist or dietician.  Nutritional counseling ensures you’re aware of what to eat for the nutrients you need, help you maintain a healthy weight, and continue to feel your best.
  • Support groups: It’s scary to have a disease that affects breathing. Support groups allow you to meet others with your condition and understand what you’re going through. It’s an opportunity for you to get the social and emotional support you deserve and to give support to others in return.


Is supplemental oxygen used during pulmonary rehabilitation?

If you need oxygen therapy, your therapist will determine whether you receive it through your nostrils or with a facemask. You may also need to carry or wheel around a portable oxygen tank. Oxygen therapy can reduce bouts of breathlessness by boosting the amount of oxygen in your blood. This boosts your energy and helps you sleep better.  Your therapist will assess the amount of oxygen you need by measuring the levels in your blood. The amount of oxygen will vary during different types of exercise. You’ll be guided on how to use oxygen as you exercise.


What can you expect after pulmonary rehabilitation?

Everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs should be more manageable. You should also feel fitter and breathe more easily.


How much does pulmonary rehabilitation cost?

Your insurance coverage and the type of pulmonary rehabilitation will determine how much you pay. Medicare Part B covers a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program for moderate to very severe COPD and may also cover pulmonary rehabilitation for other chronic lung disease. Check your eligibility for coverage on the Medicare website here.


Where can you find a pulmonary rehabilitation program near you?

We offer an exceptional pulmonary rehabilitation program directed by Dr. Rupesh Vakil, located in our comfortable and welcoming senior living community in Houston, Texas. We offer care and therapy for respiratory illnesses such as:

  •   Emphysema
  •   COPD
  •   Bronchitis
  •   Pneumonia
  •   Hypertension
  •   And many others


If you need help getting back your respiratory function after a hospital stay and before going home, our dedicated team will help you feel your best and improve your ability for daily activities.  Check out our health care and rehabilitation services earning a top 5-Star quality rating from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Contact us today to arrange a personal appointment.