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What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation, you ask? The term  “Pulmonary”  which is pronounced (PULL-mun-ary) relates to the lungs, therefore “Pulmonary Rehabilitation” involves a programme that caters to improving the wellbeing of people who are suffering from chronic illnesses or disease that cause them to have difficulty breathing. Such lung diseases or illnesses include the likes of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and cystic fibrosis.

There are many benefits to Pulmonary Rehabilitation, whilst it does not replace medical therapy that may be a necessity for you, it can complement your treatment. Whilst COPD patients and others with breathing difficulties may find the Pulmonary Rehab program beneficial, lung surgery patients too may find it beneficial before and after their surgery.

The Pulmonary Rehab program can include all or some of the following; exercise and training, diet and nutrition, education and management counsel on lung diseases, energy saving and breathing techniques, psychological counselling and support.  What patients should understand is that this type of rehab is an ongoing and long-term commitment that involves a group of professionals from doctors, nurses and specialists (nutrition, psychology, oxygen) to work together to offer the best course of action to improve your quality of life.  The specialists in question may depend on the type of treatment you are receiving, and the rehab program can be held either in hospital, an outpatient clinic or in your home, where you will be asked to change your lifestyle greatly and stick to the program as best as you can.

Before you initiate your rehabilitation program, a series of tests, observances and assessments will be carried out to gauge your condition. This can include a lung function test in order to check how well you breathe (how much air you can breathe in and out, as well as how well your lungs deliver oxygen to the bloodstream). Furthermore, your ability to exercise via a 6-minute walk test or treadmill test while plugged into measurements for oxygen levels, blood pressure and heart rate will also be done. Your medical therapy records will be reviewed including your medicines and whether you are receive oxygen therapy, it’s oxygen delivery and not to mention how it can help with improving your oxygen therapy against your exercise program. Your mental health, along with diet and nutrition will also be noted. Depending on all the information received, the Pulmonary Rehab program and its team of experts will devise a plan that is custom tailored to suit you.

Whilst the rehabilitation program is different from one individual to the next, there are benefits and risks to carrying it out. Therefore, you need to be well aware of both. As the program is multifaceted, benefits of undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation include improving your quality of life and day-to-day functions, and increasing the ability to exercise whilst decreasing the symptoms of your COPD. By undergoing the pulmonary rehabilitation program you will find it easier to breathe however, there are other risks pertaining to physical activity if you have an underlying disease, which may prove to be risky. Therefore extensive tests need to be carried beforehand prior to initiating the rehab program.