Pulmonary rehabilitation is a structured exercise and education programme that has been shown to help people with chronic breathing problems.
Chronic breathing problems include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), sarcoidosis, bronchiectasis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis.
It is one of the few proven treatments to help people with ongoing respiratory diseases such as COPD. Classes are often held at local hospitals or community centres by physiotherapists and respiratory teams 2 or 3 times per week. Topics usually include:
- Exercise training - tailored for you
- Nutritional counselling
- Education on your lung disease or condition and how to manage it
- Energy-conserving techniques
- Breathing strategies
- Psychological counselling and/or group support
Attending this programme can't cure your lung disease or completely ease your breathing problems. But it can help you function better in your daily life.
Understanding Pulmonary Rehabilitation Part 1
(Kings College Hospital London, UK, 2007)
Lynn's story 'I thought, I can either be miserable or I can live life to the full' NHS Choices
A Cochrane review confirms the benefit of pulmonary rehabilitation. The team included 31 randomised controlled trials. "Statistically significant improvements were found for all the outcomes. In four important domains of QoL (dyspnea, fatigue, emotions and patients' control over disease), the effect was larger than the minimal clinically important difference. These results strongly support respiratory rehabilitation as part of the spectrum of management for patients with COPD."(Levack, et al, 4)
A further Cochrane review looked at whether pulmonary rehabilitation was safe after a hospital admission with a COPD exacerbation and concluded: "Pulmonary rehabilitation reduced hospital admissions and mortality compared with usual community care (no rehabilitation). Quality of life was also improved ... Pulmonary rehabilitation appears to be a highly effective and safe intervention in COPD patients after suffering an exacerbation."
Pulmonary rehabilitation factsheet Australian Lung Foundation
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- Pulmonary rehabilitation: NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Pulmonary rehabilitation overview - Australian Lung Foundation
- Levack, WMM. Weatherall, M. et al. Uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation in New Zealand by people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2009. NZMJ 20 December 2012, Vol 125 No 1348.23-33.
- Lacasse Y, Goldstein R, Lasserson TJ, Martin S. Pulmonary rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 4. Abstract
- Puhan MA, Gimeno-Santos E, et al. Pulmonary rehabilitation following exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD005305.