Pulmonary rehabilitation has been shown to significantly improve the quality of life of those affected by lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or pulmonary hypertension (PH), a University of Kentucky news release reported.
But what, exactly, is pulmonary rehabilitation?
The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) defines it as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for patients with chronic respiratory diseases whose daily life activities are impaired by their condition. The rehabilitation is designed to help patients better understand their disease, and learn how to manage most common complications themselves, while recognizing those situations that demand a call for help.
At AACVPR-certified Cardiopulmonary Rehab Clinics, a team of specialized physicians, nurses, exercise physiologists, and dietitians are available to personalize treatment plans and target a patient’s particular needs. The program is also set to help restore strength and endurance, and decrease the impact of disease symptoms, such as shortness of breath.
Patients who attend a certified pulmonary rehabilitation program commonly report lower levels of breathlessness and fatigue, better exercise tolerance, and an overall enhancement in their quality of life. Patients completing the programs also testify to having fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The patient care teams at the clinics facilitate therapeutic support through group discussions to share information about disease process, breathing techniques, and nutritional support to complement the supervised exercise plan. Improvements in patient function can also be sustained afterward through the complementary Optimal Health Wellness training program.
A rehab program typically consists of an initial evaluation, exercise training plan, self-management education tools, psychological assistance, and an assessment of outcomes. The duration depends on the patient’s individual goals, initial status, and progression, but usually requires two or three two-hour sessions every week, for eight to 12 weeks.
Several U.S. health insurance plans cover pulmonary rehabilitation programs, as it has been consistently demonstrated that patients attending these programs have fewer long-term healthcare needs, the release said.
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