The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Pulmonary Rehab 101
In the past few decades, awareness about lung disease and treatment has vastly increased. Since 2010, changes to Medicare have included pulmonary rehabilitation classes as an approved form of treatment for lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Results vary depending on the progression of the patient’s disease and the aggressiveness of the program, but those who participate in pulmonary rehabilitation classes tend to see a decrease in the severity of their symptoms and fewer flare-ups.
What Occurs in Typical Pulmonary Rehabilitation Classes?
There is not just one type of pulmonary rehabilitation class because they are all tailored to an individual’s specific condition. A person with emphysema may have a different treatment plan than someone suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, for example. Regardless of conditions, most rehabilitation classes include:
- Lung function tests – on regular intervals the staff overseeing your program will want to conduct lung function tests, which usually include testing the amount of air you can breathe in and out, how fast you can breathe, as well as the oxygen levels in your blood.
- Exercise – you’re likely to be assigned a regiment of exercises that will help improve your lung’s efficiency. Typically, this includes cardiovascular and various stationary arm and leg exercises.
- Breathing techniques – the lungs work best when you take deep, slow breathes. Most breathing techniques include controlled, focused exercises that can be done at home.
- Diet – a large part of the rehabilitation has to do with what you eat. The diaphragm is the main muscle that controls your lungs, and it takes both exercise and proper nutrition to improve its functioning.
- Education – knowledge is power. Being informed about your condition and about your lungs is just as important as exercising and dieting. All pulmonary rehabilitation classes have one thing in common, they rely on self-management when you are outside of the clinic.
Who Needs Pulmonary Rehabilitation Classes?
Pulmonary rehabilitation classes are designed for anyone who suffers from a condition that limits the functioning of the lungs. Typically, patients seek classes along with a regimen of physician prescribed drugs to treat their illness. Most participants have developed varying severities of CPOD, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis and neuromuscular diseases. Outside of those diagnosed with a progressive lung disease, people who show signs of diminished functioning of the lungs in any form, seek assistance through classes as well.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Classes and Smoking
Smoking is the leading contributor to lung disease. Treating lung disease is impossible to do while smoking. Nearly all pulmonary rehabilitation classes require that you quit smoking prior to starting. However, many classes offer a smoking cessation program as a supplement to pulmonary rehabilitation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation classes are offered nationwide and are typically reasonably priced. Dependent on where your program is offered, you commonly have to pay 20 percent of the cost and/or a copay per each visit, Medicare covers the rest.