Pulmonary Rehabilitation

What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an individualized outpatient program for patients with chronic respiratory impairment.  The program begins with a comprehensive assessment by a registered nurse. Based on the assessment and physician recommendations, a specially designed exercise plan is created to optimize physical performance.  The program also includes education and training for living with lung disease, prevention of illness, and improving emotional well-being.

Who Qualifies?

A physician referral is required for admission to the program.  If you have a diagnosis of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, restrictive lung disease, lung cancer, or you have had or are planning a lung surgery, you may be eligible.  This is a very brief list of the most common diagnoses, so ask your physician if pulmonary rehabilitation is appropriate for your condition.  If you have experienced a reduction in your physical activity, occupational performance, or your activities of daily living related to your lung disease, you may benefit from outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation.

Is It Safe?

Patients participating in the pulmonary rehabilitation program are monitored, by specially trained staff.  The staff guide your sessions to make sure your exercise is appropriate for your condition and specific needs.  Your vital signs will be monitored including blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.  Oxygen saturation will be measured during activity to maintain safe oxygen levels.  Heart monitors providing continuous EKG are used if necessary to monitor your heart’s response to exercise.  Regular communication with physicians by pulmonary rehabilitation staff is made regarding your progress in the program or untoward changes in your medical condition.

What Is The Goal Of Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to reduce the symptoms associated with chronic lung disease through individualized exercise, muscle strengthening, and education to provide our patients a better health-related quality of life.

What Can I Expect During Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Patient goals and outcomes demonstrated from participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program include the following:

  • Breathing easier
  • Being more active
  • Having a better quality of life
  • Increasing strength and endurance
  • Being able to travel with greater ease
  • Experiencing a decrease in anxiety, depression, or fear of activities that cause shortness of breath
  • Being more independent
  • Experiencing fewer exacerbations and hospitalizations
  • Increasing knowledge about pulmonary disease and its management
  • Weight management or weight loss
  • Making healthy lifestyle changes

How Do I Get Started And How Long Does It Last?

Your physician will need to make a referral for outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation.  Ask your doctor if you think you may qualify.  After your physician makes a referral, the pulmonary rehabilitation staff will contact you to set up an appointment for your initial assessment.  If you have had lung surgery, your physician will determine the most appropriate time to start rehabilitation.

The length of the program can vary from patient to patient, but many patients qualify for 36 sessions, which are usually completed over a three-month period.  Exercise sessions are held 3 days per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The length of your program will be individualized for your specific condition and needs.

What About Payment?​

Many insurance plans including Medicare provide coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation.  You may want to check with your plan for specific limitations or co-pays that may apply.

What Happens After I Complete Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

After a patient completes the pulmonary rehabilitation program there are several options for maintaining your improvements toward a healthy lifestyle.  The pulmonary rehabilitation department offers a maintenance program called LifeTrax where you can participate in supervised exercise.  You may feel ready to get a gym membership and exercise on your own, or some patients are comfortable with continuing their exercise routines at home.  Regardless of the route you choose, we encourage you to continue working toward the successful management of living with lung disease.

Hamilton Pulmonary Rehabilitation is located inside the Wellness Center.