What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehabilitation (sometimes abbreviated to PR) is a programme of education and exercises aimed at people with lung conditions, which cause breathlessness. Pulmonary rehabilitation is generally offered to people with COPD, especially when the person has had a hospital admission or is coming out of a flare up but is also useful for patients with a range of other conditions, including Bronchiectasis, Pulmonary Fibrosis and Asthma.
By helping you understand your condition and symptoms better, whilst learning how to safely do a range of physical exercises, pulmonary rehabilitation can help you manage your long-term physical and mental wellbeing more effectively.
What are the benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehabilitation is not a cure, but it can help you build stamina and learn ways to use the oxygen you breathe more efficiently, so you feel better able to cope with periods of breathlessness and life with a long-term condition. Pulmonary rehabilitation helps to improve muscle strength and is also a great way to improve fitness and, for those who are not usually very active, it is a good way to introduce regular exercise.
Like regular exercise, pulmonary rehabilitation can also improve mental wellbeing- exercise increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are mood-boosting brain chemicals.
What happens on a Pulmonary Rehabilitation course?
A pulmonary rehabilitation course generally lasts around 6-8 weeks and may be carried out in a group or with just you and a healthcare professional. You may need to go to a local hospital or community centre, but some courses are run via video call to give people a more convenient, contact-free option. If you are shielding or can’t travel, there’s advice available on how to get the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation from home.
During pulmonary rehabilitation sessions, trained health care professionals offer support and guidance designed to help equip patients with useful skills and lifestyle management techniques, as well as exercises such as resistance training and stretching. Some pulmonary rehabilitation courses are provided digitally, through a website or an app.
How do I get Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
To start a pulmonary rehabilitation course, you would usually need to have a referral from your GP/Practice Nurse/Matron or Respiratory Team, but it’s easy to find out if there is a programme near you. Some services allow self-referrals.
What happens after the Pulmonary Rehabilitation course?
Pulmonary rehabilitation doesn’t end when the course ends. The more you keep doing the exercises and skills you learned in everyday life, the more benefit you will get from them.In some cases, you may be provided with printed or digital resources to continue with your exercises after the course ends. If you have been using a digital platform for Pulmonary Rehabilitation such as Rehab Guru, you can speak to your specialist respiratory team about continuing to use this platform after the course ends.
Where can I find out more?
If you would like to find out more about Pulmonary Rehabilitation there’s lots of information online, including the British Lung Foundation website. Your healthcare provider will also be able to answer questions and direct you towards further support.