Understanding Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation (or “rehab”) is a term that covers many different approaches. The goals are to decrease the severity of breathlessness as much as possible during daily activity and to increase energy and exercise levels in general. Pulmonary rehab is recommended for people with interstitial lung disease (ILD). Your healthcare provider can help you decide if pulmonary rehab is a good option for you.
“If pulmonary rehab has not been recommended or discussed with
your physician, you may want to ask your physician about the therapy. It is extremely
important to participate in pulmonary rehab if recommended by your doctor.”
Pulmonary rehab includes activities such as physical conditioning, exercise training, and breathing exercises. It may also include anxiety, stress, and depression management, as well as nutritional counseling, education, and other programs.
“Your rehabilitation therapist will be able to help you figure
out a solution that works best for you, as well as answer any questions you may have.”
The Possible Benefits of Pulmonary Rehab
Benefits may include:
- Improved breathlessness
- Increased ability to exercise
- Improved sense of well-being, and a more positive outlook
- Reduced anxiety and depression
Pulmonary rehab has been shown to be safe in people with ILD. There are some risks associated with
pulmonary rehab that are generally related to the exercise part of the program. As with any
physical training activity, there may be a very slight increase in muscle soreness. Also,
physical activity can increase the risk of chest pain or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Working in collaboration, your rehab specialist and your healthcare provider will determine how much
additional oxygen you may need as your exercise program is developed.
Although leading medical guidelines recommend that most people with ILD receive pulmonary rehab, it may not be right for everyone. You should discuss the option of pulmonary rehab with your healthcare provider to see if your condition warrants it, if it is safe for you to participate, and if it might benefit you.
A Team Effort
If your healthcare provider prescribes pulmonary rehab, you should know it involves working with a team of healthcare providers. This team may include nurses, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists, social workers, dietitians, and others. It may also include several exercises and lifestyle changes at home. Working closely with your healthcare team will help you to know what is expected of you.
You’re not alone in this—
we’re just a phone call away.
Life with ILD can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Call Lungs&You® to speak with a dedicated nurse who can help you get the information you need to help take an active role in your health.*
*Lungs&You® does not provide medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider if you have specific questions about your health.