Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of exercise, education, and support to help you learn to breathe—and function—at the highest level possible.
At pulmonary rehabilitation you’ll work with a team of specialists who will help you improve your physical condition. You will also learn how to manage your COPD so you will stay healthy and active long after you complete the course.
In order to qualify for pulmonary rehabilitation, you must be referred by your doctor and have spirometry test results within the past year that show you have COPD.
Your rehabilitation team will take a complete health history, talk with you about your current level of activity, and help you set goals for what is most important to you. You will walk as they monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level. Don’t worry if you can’t walk very far! Pulmonary rehabilitation professionals are experts at working with people with severe shortness of breath, and they’ll make sure you’re safe.
You may only be able to start out exercising at a slow pace, even for only a minute or two. That’s okay. If you need supplemental oxygen you can use it. Your oxygen level, heart rate, and blood pressure will be monitored so you can exercise safely and effectively. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish!
At pulmonary rehabilitation, you will also learn about: breathing techniques, medications, nutrition, relaxation, oxygen, travel, how to do everyday tasks with less shortness of breath, and how to stay healthy and avoid COPD exacerbations. You’ll also learn how to cope with the changes that often come with COPD - depression, panic, anxiety, and others. A bonus is that you’ll also meet people with COPD who have many of the same experiences, questions and feelings that you do.
To learn more about the Pulmonary Rehabilitation process, check out these additional patient resources from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR).