Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that can help people with COPD manage their symptoms, improve their overall health and well-being, and have a better quality of life. It includes exercise, education, and support that can help those with COPD breathe better, improve their physical fitness, and cope with emotional issues commonly found in life with COPD. The program is typically led by a team of healthcare professionals, including a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, and respiratory therapist.
In this blog, we’ll look at the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation for people with COPD.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. These symptoms can make it difficult for you to perform daily activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, or even dressing yourself. As these symptoms progress, it becomes harder to do daily activities and you may find yourself doing less and less. This downward spiral can lead to social isolation and disability. Pulmonary rehabilitation aims to help you stay active and prevent this decline.
One of the key benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation is that it can help you breathe easier. You will learn how to do a variety of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles that are used for breathing, such as the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles, the muscles between your ribs. These exercises can help you breathe more easily and efficiently, making it easier for you to perform daily activities.
In addition to exercise, pulmonary rehabilitation includes education about COPD and how to manage the disease. This education can help you understand your condition and the steps you can take to manage it. For example, you will learn how to use inhalers correctly, how to manage supplemental oxygen, and how to avoid triggers that can worsen COPD symptoms. If you are a smoker, you will learn about quitting smoking,
Another benefit of pulmonary rehabilitation is that it can help you improve your overall physical fitness. When you have trouble breathing, you tend to not exercise. This can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you build up your strength and endurance, making it easier for you to stay active and get through your day with less shortness of breath. The exercise program is tailored to your condition and need. The exercise is supervised by trained staff to help you pace your activity level appropriately.
Support for coping
Pulmonary rehabilitation also provides support and encouragement for people with COPD. There you can connect and share experiences with others who are going through many of the same things and learn from each other.
Improved mood and mental well-being
Living with COPD can be challenging and lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Pulmonary rehabilitation also helps with mental health, providing you with the tools and support you need to manage your emotions and improve your overall mental well-being.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is helpful for people with COPD of any stage – mild, moderate, or severe disease. Like any other exercise program, it requires patience and commitment to get the best results. If you or a loved one has COPD, talk to your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation and how it can help you manage your condition and improve your quality of life.
This blog is written by Dr. Muhammad Ahsan Zafar, MD.
Dr Zafar is an Associate Professor and a Pulmonary & Critical care specialist at University of Cincinnati, USA. He is also the co-inventor of PEP Buddy. He was the past medical director of pulmonary rehabilitation programs at University of Cincinnati.