Feeling exhausted just to climb a few stairs or walking even a short distance – living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or COPD is outright difficult. Unfortunately more and more people are being diagnosed with COPD. Making the lives of thousands breathe easy, pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive and collective approach by the rehab specialists to offer tailored rehabilitation solutions for each patient.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an impactful approach that is already proven to be effective for many. Optimizing the respiratory function, strengthening the lungs and their capacity are the major goals behind pulmonary rehabilitation. The rehab doctors will follow various methods that include exercise training, counselling, behavioural therapy, lifestyle changes, and repositioning of everyday activities that improve the physical condition of the people with COPD

Pulmonary rehabilitation: a brief overview

The particulars involved in pulmonary rehabilitation and its rehab approach changes from person to person. After a thorough analysis of the current condition of the individual, the pulmonologist discusses the customized rehab plan that suits the best interests of the individual.

On a general note, the lung rehabilitation or the pulmonary rehabilitation include the following rehab activities;

  • Evaluation – The evaluation process includes inputs from various rehab specialists, ticking the box of multidisciplinary approach
  • Determining the goals – Before proceeding with the exercise and other rehab activity plans, the specialist discusses the expected goals considering various health aspects of the individual.
  • Pulmonary care – Positioning, activity structure, functional training, and alternative performance tasks are discussed during this stage.
  • Rehab activities – Kickstarting the sessions under the supervision of the rehab specialists, these exercises can last anywhere 8 weeks to 12 months (combining the supervised and unsupervised sessions).
  • Therapy counselling – Psychological and behavioural counselling by the rehab specialist is common in all types of rehabilitations. The specialist might ask questions related to progress and major complaints.

What exactly happens during the rehab for COPD?

Focusing on the conditions that are impairing the normal breathing activity, the specialist understands the functional ability of the person and structures the activity plan to improve the strength and endurance. The treatment approach might be similar for asthma rehabilitation as well as cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.

While encouraging the individual to improve their functional ability by adapting to the environment, the therapist will suggest few activities that take care of the initial obstructions at home or at the workplace. Followed by this, the therapist suggests activities that relieve the symptoms upto some extent. For example, in asthma rehab, the specialist suggests an uninterrupted breathing pattern, focusing on breathing while working, and involve in the activities without talking or breathing with mouth.

Different rehab approaches are followed based on the condition and its severity level. Let’s take a look at the exercise for mild, moderate, and severe pulmonary conditions.

  • Rehab for mild pulmonary conditions – Severe cough with sputum, mild hypoxaemia, and when the forced expiratory volume in the 1st second is 70-80%, the condition is considered as mild. It does not need rehabilitation but the general position changes and best breathing practices will be practiced.
  • Rehab for moderate pulmonary conditions – The individual experiences shortness of breath every now and then, especially when involved in regular day to day activities such as climbing stairs, lifting, walking and so on. The vital capacity and forced expiratory volume indicates between 55-70%. A 12-minute walk test is performed to know the BP, ECG, and HR. Activities under supervision are prescribed for 5-6 days in a week
  • Severe pulmonary conditions – The individual might struggle for breathing while performing almost all types of activities involved in a daily life. The vital capacity and forced expiratory volume falls below 50% and is in support of oxygen while resting. The rehab specialist will employ low intensity activities that include short exercise bouts, and rest frequently. Intensive monitoring is required from the specialists and the rehab session will last for 15-20 minutes 5 times a week. The intensity of each activity is strictly for the individual to perform under supervision and based on the initial evaluation.

Rehabilitation plays a significant role in helping people get integrated into an active community. Check with your nearest pulmonary rehabilitation clinic for a thorough examination, today.