What Should I Know About Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Pulmonary rehabilitation is a type of treatment program for people suffering from chronic conditions that affect the lungs. Such conditions include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, interstitial lung disease, and a host of others. These programs take a combination approach to treatment, including such things as medical care, education and exercise, and nutritional counseling. Emotional support and breathing training are typically part of these programs as well.

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to help those suffering with chronic lung conditions to achieve a more satisfying life. Many of the people who start this type of program have undergone other types of treatments, only to find their functioning and lifestyle diminished. Pulmonary rehabilitation is intended to give them as much function as possible, allowing them to enjoy greater levels of comfort and get more out of life.

Depending on the needs of the patient, this type of program may take place in a hospital, with the patient checked in, or on an outpatient basis, with the patient going home each day. There are many medical professionals that make up a pulmonary rehabilitation team. For example, it may include medical doctors, nutritional counselors, social workers, therapists, nurses, psychologists, and educators as well as other health care professionals.


There are several things that may be worked on as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. For example, one of the chief goals may be managing and even decreasing a person's symptoms as well as eliminating potential complications. This type of program is also intended to help patients achieve more independence by allowing them to have a larger role in managing and controlling their treatment and everyday functioning while also decreasing the number of hospitalizations necessary. Such a program also seeks to improve a person's physical health and usually includes exercise. However, the physical side of treatment is just part of the program, as improving the person's emotional well-being is one of the top goals.

While it may seem that exercise can aggravate a chronic lung condition, it may actually help a person gain the physical ability and strength to become more active and deal with shortness of breath. The idea is that greater levels of activity may help to condition a person's body to experience fewer symptoms and complications. Besides building a stronger body, the exercise portion of pulmonary rehabilitation may also improve a person's mental outlook and reduce the risk of depression.

Breathing training is another important part of treatment. It can help the patient learn to take deeper breaths, which may, in turn, help him to combat breathlessness. Some types of breathing training exercises include diaphragmatic and pursed-lip breathing.

Nutritional counseling is also another major part of pulmonary rehabilitation. This is because adequate nutrition is vital for heath maintenance and strength building. A person with a chronic lung condition may suffer from muscle weakness or experience weight loss. Good nutritional counseling can help to deal with these issues.



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