Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD: Benefits, Exercises and Guidelines

by | Jul 17, 2017 | COPD, Disease Education, Guides

The journey to better respiratory health starts here.

For those of you reading this, many of you have already been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or some other form of chronic lung disease. At first, this news can be immediately devastating. Breathing conditions that were at one time assumed to be the natural effects of getting older, are instead revealed to be the life-threatening symptoms of progressive lung disease.

Needless to say, this type of diagnosis can come as quite a shock.

Immediately after, the question most often turns to: what can I do about it?

And in this pursuit, a pulmonologist or physician may offer a litany of treatment options such as traditional medications, surgery, supplemental oxygen use or cellular therapy. However, one method of addressing the progression of the disease that very rarely goes ignored or unmentioned is that of pursuing pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD. In short, pulmonary rehabilitation is exactly as it sounds, it’s a rehab program to improve the function of your lungs, and increase to increase the quality of your life.

With your health in mind, the Lung Health Institute is here to explore the topic of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD: Benefits, Exercises and Guidelines and help you along your journey to a longer and more comfortable life.

When it comes to the treatment of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) your physician or pulmonologist may prescribe oxygen therapy—among other available forms of treatment—as a way to ease the symptoms of the disease—namely shortness of breath. The way in which supplementary oxygen works is simple: it provides you a constant stream of oxygen directly through the nose to help ease your breathing and oxygen intake, regardless of your respiratory difficulty.

The Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD

Let’s start with good news first, and when it comes to the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation, there’s plenty of good news to go around. To start—and as we’ve mentioned earlier—pulmonary rehabilitation is essentially a treatment program geared towards improving your respiratory health in nearly all facets. This means improving your health through exercise, educating you on breathing techniques and addressing symptoms, teaching you about the progression and nature of your disease and even getting your family involved for your emotional and psychological support.

In every sense of the word, pulmonary rehabilitation encompasses the full gamut of what you need in not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. In its direct and measurable benefits, pulmonary rehabilitation has shown:

  • A reduction in the amount of days spent in a hospital one year following pulmonary rehabilitation
  • A reduction in the amount of exacerbations patients experienced compared to those who did not exercise.
  • A reduction in the amount of exacerbations experienced post pulmonary rehabilitation.

Among these significant benefits, all signs point to the effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation as a practice for those with severe chronic lung disease.

The Role of Exercise in Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD

Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD: Benefits, Exercises and Guidelines

In the realm of pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise is highly emphasized. As pulmonary rehabilitation combines the day-to-day behavioral changes—such as diet, exercise, and education—that can slow disease progression and improve respiratory function, exercise is a fundamental fixture within this program. Using metrics such as the 6-minute walk test found in the BODE Index, exercise through simple means is found throughout the pulmonary rehabilitation program.

In pursuing a better degree of exercise, it’s important to start small. Walking is one of the easiest and least intensive forms of exercise we can do. In fact, we’ve been walking since we were toddlers and is one of our oldest forms of movement. In beginning your own exercise plan, start with simple goals. This could be as easy as simple as walking around the block. If that’s a challenge, walk to the mailbox and back. The goal here to start with manageable and realistic goals that you can confidently accomplish, then to challenge yourself to push forward from there.

Guidelines in Entering Pulmonary Rehabilitation

In truth, the guidelines of entering a pulmonary rehabilitation program are not as complicated as they may seem. To qualify, you must be able to show your latest spirometry results by a licensed physician as well as have a direct referral from your doctor.

Looking Towards What’s Next

In addressing the increasingly difficult symptoms of COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation and all the insight and education it can provide remains to be an incredible asset, therefore it’s always recommended as a critical step in improving one’s quality of life. However, it is important to recognize that despite the many benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation, proper treatment is still an unavoidable necessity in the quest for long-term symptom relief and slowed disease progression.

With these behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.

For more information on cellular therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at 888-745-6697. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.

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