Pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) rehabilitation, also called pulmonary rehab or PR, is a broad program that helps improve the well-being of people who have chronic (ongoing) breathing problems.
For example, PR may benefit people who have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Sarcoidosis (sar-koy-DOE-sis), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or cystic fibrosis.
PR also can benefit people who need lung surgery, both before and after the surgery.
PR doesn't replace medical therapy. Instead, it's used with medical therapy and may include:
PR involves a long-term commitment from the patient and a team of health care providers. The PR team may include doctors, nurses, and specialists. Examples of specialists include respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and psychologists or social workers.
PR often is an outpatient program based in a hospital or clinic. Some patients also can receive PR in their homes. When you start PR, your rehab team will create a plan that's tailored to your abilities and needs. You'll likely attend your PR program weekly. Your team also will expect you to follow your plan, including exercises and lifestyle changes, at home.
PR has many benefits. It can improve your ability to function and your quality of life. The program also may help relieve your breathing problems. Even if you have advanced lung disease, you can still benefit from PR.
Your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) if you have a chronic (ongoing) lung disease. He or she also may suggest PR if you have a condition that makes it hard for you to breathe and limits your activities.
For example, you may benefit from PR if you have:
Your doctor also may recommend PR before and after lung surgery to help you prepare for and recover from the surgery. For example, people who have surgery for lung cancer or COPD may benefit from PR.PR also can help people who have muscle-wasting disorders that may affect the muscles used for breathing. One example of this type of disorder is muscular dystrophy.PR works best if you start it when your disease is in a moderate stage. However, even people who have advanced lung disease can benefit from PR.
When you first start pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), your team of health care providers will want to learn more about your health.For example, they'll want to know how well you're able to breathe and exercise. You'll have lung function tests to check your breathing. These tests measure how much air you can breathe in and out, how fast you can breathe air out, and how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your blood.
Your team can check your ability to exercise several ways. They may measure how far you can walk in 6 minutes (called a 6-minute walk test). Or, they may ask you to exercise on a treadmill while your oxygen level, blood pressure, and heart rate are measured. Your PR team also will review your medical therapy to see whether it needs to be changed during the PR program. For example, you may need to start using, or increase the use of, inhaled bronchodilators. These medicines can help you breathe easier during exercise. You also may need oxygen therapy to help you get the most out of your exercise plan.
Your PR team may assess your mental health. If you have anxiety or are very depressed, they may refer you to a specialist who can treat these issues.In addition, the team may measure your weight and height, ask about your food intake and general nutrition, and recommend a blood test to assess loss of muscle mass.The data your PR team gathers at the start of your program will help them create a plan that's tailored to your abilities and needs.