Pulmonary rehabilitation is a physician-supervised program for people who have chronic lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, bronchiectasis, interstitial lung disease, or lung tumors. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can often improve function, reduce symptoms, and improve the well-being of patients.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the pulmonary rehabilitation team, including any/all of the following:
- thoracic surgeon
- rehabilitation nurse
- respiratory therapist
- physical therapist
- occupational therapist
- social worker
- recreational therapist
- case manager
- vocational counselor
A pulmonary rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending upon the specific lung problem or disease. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.
The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to help patients return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life - physically, emotionally, and socially. These goals are often met by:
- decreasing respiratory symptoms and complications.
- encouraging independence through self-management.
- improving physical conditioning and exercise performance.
- improving social, emotional, and vocational status.
- reducing hospitalizations.
In order to help reach these goals, pulmonary rehabilitation programs may include the following:
- medication management to help reduce respiratory symptoms, complications, and hospitalizations
- breathing exercises to improve lung capacity and fitness
- calisthenics or stretching exercises to improve flexibility
- weight training to increase exercise endurance and conditioning
- exercise machines such as stationary bicycles and treadmills
- patient and family education and counseling
- smoking cessation
- stress management and emotional support
- nutritional counseling
- assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
- vocational counseling
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