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The Pulmonary Rehab Connection

What is pulmonary rehab? What does one do at a pulmonary rehab? How long does it last? Who should attend a pulmonary rehab? Is it helpful for someone with IPF? These are some of the questions people have about pulmonary rehab. Let's take them one at a time to give you some idea of the whole picture.

What is Pulmonary Rehab?

Pulmonary rehab is a medically supervised program designed to help people with lung disease cope with their illness and live the best quality of life they possibly can. It may be offered through a hospital or be in a free standing clinic. Pulmonary rehab can be staffed by respiratory therapists, physical therapists or registered nurses. Many pulmonary rehabs offer a multidisciplinary team with the services of physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, registered nurses, social workers, psychologists, dieticians and exercise physiologists.

What Therapy is done at pulmonary rehab? (What does one do there?)

This can be really variable. However, research shows that pulmonary rehabs that offer education and exercise are more effective than education alone so most offer some combination of education and exercise. Also recent research shows that patients who are involved in some long term follow up do better. Since breathing problems are what bring people to pulmonary rehab there is a focus on learning compensatory breathing patterns to help with shortness of breath. In addition many people have lost a lot of strength and endurance so most programs use a combination of exercises such as lifting small weights, walking and bicycling to increase strength and endurance. Due to shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, etc. many people have abandoned many of their social activities and sometimes even their activities at home. For this reason many pulmonary rehab programs teach energy conservation and work simplification techniques to allow a return to some activities. Another important area for people with lung disease is taking medication—including O2—correctly so that is another area that is covered by pulmonary rehab programs. Not all rehab programs cover all of the areas. However, if a person is in rehab and has a particular need the therapist may be able to work with the doctor to get another service involved to help with the problem.

How Long does pulmonary rehab last?

The initial program can last 4 to 12 weeks. Most average 6 weeks. The 4-8 week time frame is long enough to provide basic breathing retraining, get a person started on an exercise program and give some basic education. When breathing is the weak link in the chain that time frame is not nearly enough to gain physical fitness. Some authorities have argued that people with lung disease cannot get "fit" but newer information indicates that perseverance does pay off in the fitness area. Many rehabs offer a long-term exercise program after the basic program to help people attain a better level of fitness or maintain what they started in the basic program.

Who should attend pulmonary rehab?

Everyone with lung disease should attend pulmonary rehab. Of course I am biased! I also think that people should not wait until they're really disabled to get involved. Pulmonary rehabs are one of the most practical services available. They get down to the nitty gritty of day to day life to help you live as full a life as possible.

Does it help those of us with IPF?

Breathing techniques help anyone with a breathing problem. Energy conservation techniques are especially important to IPF'ers. Using O2 and other medications correctly is essential to our well being. Having someone to show us tiny steps to success and cheer us on is very helpful. Having someone who has time to answer questions and assess our symptoms is invaluable.

special thanks to Sharon who is a pulmonary rehab nurse suffering with IPF!

You can meet Sharon and many others with IPF if you click on "Join Huff 'n Puff" to the left and follow the instructions:

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What is IPF?

Home

Related Links

Join Huff N Puff

The Purpose of this site

Search the Web for IPF information

Huff n Puff Forum Archives


IPF Treatments

Warning Signs

Pursed Lip Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Help For Shortness of Breath

SOB Positions

Controlled Coughing

Tips For Living

Exercise

Pulmonary Rehab

Postural Drainage

Using Your Inhaler

Using Your Spacer

Flu Shots