Based on the patient’s medical history, physical symptoms, and the results from lung function tests, the healthcare team may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation therapy. The goal is for the skills and knowledge learned in such a program to help people with PF feel better, become stronger, and increase fitness — all helpful for improved management of their chronic lung disease.
Benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation
- improved breathing
- strengthening of muscles that aid in breathing
- reduced fatigue, anxiety, and depression
- increased independence
- improved mood
- ease of routine activities including work, outings, and social events
- improved overall quality of life
Before pulmonary rehabilitation
The pulmonary rehabilitation program is tailored specifically to each patient’s needs. A healthcare team will develop a therapy plan taking into consideration the person’s age, lung health, and other factors that may influence the individual’s ability to perform the exercises. In addition to the pulmonologist, the healthcare team will include trained respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and psychologists.
A series of tests will be performed to assess the patient’s exercise capacity, lung health and breathing capacity, and quality of life. The results of these tests will not only be used to determine the rehabilitation regimen but to help monitor any improvements following pulmonary rehabilitation.
During pulmonary rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation can be performed in a hospital, clinic, or at home. The therapy program, which may include group classes, varies from center to center. Most programs involve the following elements:
- Education to teach patients about lung function and signs of symptom flare-ups. Having such information helps manage symptoms, avoid triggers, and regulate medications.
- Breathing techniques to help control breathing and avoid feeling out of breath. Pursed lip breathing, yoga, and computer-aided breathing routines are some examples of breathing techniques.
- Nutritional guidance to improve eating habits. Pulmonary fibrosis patients struggle to get an adequate amount of nutrition. A dietitian and nutritionist can provide tips and techniques to increase nutrient intake and can recommend nutritional supplements essential for muscle strength.
- Exercises to strengthen muscles that aid in breathing as well as overall body health. Breathing issues can cause loss of stamina. Guided exercises can help regain lost strength and improve stamina for daily activities.
- Psychological counseling to help deal with depression and anxiety. Chronic lung disease and associated stress can cause emotional problems, including anxiety and depression. A trained psychologist can offer management techniques to cope with such issues, and help boost morale to continue with the rehabilitation program.
After pulmonary rehabilitation
Depending on the healthcare facility, the pulmonary rehabilitation program can last from a few weeks to several months. The healthcare team will continue to monitor progress during the program. After the completion of the program, the healthcare team will perform tests similar to those performed before the program to assess any improvements.
After the program, the patient may be asked to continue some of the exercises at home to maintain the improvements.
Last updated: Nov. 4, 2019
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