What can Pulmonary Rehab do for you?
I encounter patients who frequently ask “Why didn’t my doctor send me to rehab sooner?” Typically the answer to this question is that these patients weren’t feeling many if any limitations from their diagnosis and didn’t need the coaching and education for their diagnosis until now. The goal of Pulmonary Rehabilitation is to help improve the quality of life and wellness of a person with a lung condition or diagnosis. Often times people with a lung diagnosis are asymptomatic and can go through life without feeling any limitations from their conditions. These patients do not require the experience of trained Respiratory Therapists or other clinicians to help manage their day to day symptoms. When someone’s diagnosis starts to limit their activity or effect their wellness, Pulmonary Rehabilitation may be the prescription for getting them or keeping them on track with their strength, endurance, and overall well-being.
Areas of Focus
Exercise Training – this is the basis of most pulmonary rehab programs. Clinicians will work with each patient to increase their strength and endurance. Improving strength and endurance in the rehab setting should translate activities patients do in the home setting. Emphasizing pacing, body mechanics and self assessment are all incorporated into this area of focus.
Medicine Management- Taking the right medications the correct way. Many times my patients are taking their medications in an order that doesn’t allow them to reap the benefits. Other times the way in which they are taking their breathing medications isn’t effective. The clinicians in a Pulmonary Rehab will take the extra time to review each lung medication, how to take it, and give advice as to when the medication should be administered.
Breathing Retraining- There are a few breathing techniques they may help a person get through and activity or recover from their shortness of breath faster. By training the patient to use these techniques effectively, patients start to gain more confidence on how to manage their everyday breathlessness will with a little more ease.
Lung Diagnosis Education – With the invention of the internet, many of my patients start to educate themselves on their lung disease before I ever meet them. In many ways (like this blog) the internet can provide very helpful information in understanding a patient’s diagnosis. Yet sometimes it can be overwhelming to read highly clinical information. Clinicians in pulmonary rehab, like myself, pride ourselves in breaking down the info into layman’s terms. We help to debunk any false claims out there and much more importantly give the patient hope and empowerment on how they can personally manage their condition.
Nutrition Counseling- Pulmonary Rehab is a great place to learn about what foods are going to make you feel your best. Often times patients’ diagnosis is complicated by an inability to gain or lose weight and/or an additional diagnosis of diabetes. Pulmonary rehab coordinators can work with the patient’s physician to refer them to dietitians and nutritionists that can assist in reaching dietary goals.
If you think that Pulmonary Rehab could be right for you, talk to your physician to see if you are a candidate.