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Pulmonary Rehabilitation

What is pulmonary rehab?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a medically supervised program for people with long-term (chronic) lung diseases. It may also be used before or after lung surgery. It may also help improve lung function in people with scoliosis.

Pulmonary rehab is used for lung conditions such as:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis

  • Interstitial lung disease, such as pulmonary sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary rehab can help people to:

  • Have fewer symptoms and complications

  • Need fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays

  • Improve their daily function

  • Be as independent as possible

  • Have a better quality of life

  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression

The pulmonary rehab team

Pulmonary rehab programs may be held at hospitals or other facilities. They may be used as part of a stay in a hospital or rehab facility (inpatient). Or you may come for rehab sessions and go home afterward (outpatient). The pulmonary rehab team may include these skilled healthcare professionals:

  • Pulmonologist, a lung disease doctor

  • Thoracic surgeon, a doctor specializing in chest surgeries

  • Physiatrist, a rehabilitation specialist

  • Internists and family doctors

  • Nurses

  • Respiratory therapists

  • Dietitians or nutritionists

  • Physical therapists

  • Occupational therapists

  • Social workers

  • Other therapists and counselors

The pulmonary rehab program

These programs are designed to meet the specific needs of each person with lung conditions. It is better if both you and your family are actively involved.

Pulmonary rehab programs may include:

  • Help with medicine

  • Breathing exercises to improve lung function and help you do daily activities

  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility

  • Weight training to improve muscle strength and increase exercise endurance and conditioning

  • Exercise machines

  • Education and counseling for you and your family, including disease information and self-management skills

  • Help to stop smoking

  • Stress management and emotional support

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Help with home respiratory equipment, such as oxygen equipment and supplies, airway clearance devices, and nebulizers

  • Job or work counseling

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Southard RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Shaziya Allarakha MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2024
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