What are the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation?

  • Control and lessen the shortness of breath and other symptoms that occur with chronic lung disease
  • Improve muscle strength
  • Improve endurance
  • Understand lung disease and how to manage it
  • Maximize the ability to do important day-to-day activities
  • Decrease stress that is part of chronic lung disease

What will I do at rehabilitation?

You will be taught breathing techniques to help control and decrease shortness of breath. Each session will include aerobic exercise such as treadmills, stationary bikes, recumbent steppers and upper arm ergometer. There will also be strengthening exercises for the upper and lower body. During your exercise sessions, licensed respiratory therapists will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. The goal is to slowly increase endurance and muscle strength. You will be evaluated by a respiratory therapist initially and, if indicated at this time, a physical therapy evaluation will be scheduled. An exercise plan will be developed specifically for your needs and abilities.

A home exercise program will be given to you, along with a log sheet to document your progress and adjust as your condition and exercise tolerance improves. This will aid you in performing exercise at home once you have completed the program.

After starting the program, you will be scheduled to meet with a dietitian to evaluate your nutritional status. Education sessions will teach you about your lung disease, medications, nutrition, stress control, lifestyle modifications, energy conservation, relaxation techniques and traveling with oxygen.

What conditions are appropriate for pulmonary rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is appropriate for anyone with a chronic lung disease whose activities are limited by their shortness of breath. Common lung diseases referred to pulmonary rehabilitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Lung transplant (before & after)
  • Kyphoscoliosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Thoracic surgery

How do I enroll?

referral form from your physician is required to attend pulmonary rehabilitation.

Are there any tests or evaluations prior to starting rehabilitation?

Before starting rehabilitation, you will have a PFT (pulmonary function test) if one was not done within the last three months. Then you will be scheduled to meet with a respiratory therapist who will evaluate your respiratory status. This includes an inspiratory muscle test and a walk to evaluate oxygen needs and shortness of breath. This evaluation takes about 90 minutes. If indicated, you will then be scheduled to meet with a physical therapist who will assess your balance, gait, muscle strength and address any orthopedic limitations you might have.

Goal Setting

An Individual Treatment Plan (ITP) will be developed based on your physical, education, psychosocial and nutritional needs derived from your initial evaluation.

This will be reviewed for approval by the medical director at your rehabilitation location and then reviewed with you. Your ordering physician will be sent the ITP with updates every 30 days.

How often and how long will I come to rehabilitation?

Different sites will vary as to how many weekly sessions and what times are available. Sessions are generally two to three days/week and last between 90-120 minutes. Regular attendance is important in order to achieve the most benefit from the program. Morning and afternoon sessions are available. The program length is generally six to ten weeks and depends on the location as well as each person’s individual needs.

Does insurance cover pulmonary rehabilitation?

Medicare covers 80 percent for individuals with a qualifying diagnosis as well as pulmonary function criteria. Most supplements and/or private insurance companies cover the program as well. The pulmonary rehabilitation office, with the assistance of pre-arrival, will contact your insurance company to verify benefits and inform you if there are any out of pocket expenses.

What do I wear to pulmonary rehabilitation?

Wear comfortable clothing that is non-binding or restrictive. Women are encouraged to wear pants as opposed to skirts or dresses. You should wear comfortable walking/athletic shoes that have good support.