1. What is pulmonary rehabilitation and why should I consider pulmonary rehabilitation?

According to the American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society pulmonary rehabilitation, or pulmonary rehab, is “an evidence-based multidisciplinary and comprehensive intervention for patients with chronic respiratory diseases who are symptomatic and often have decreased daily activities.” Think of it as physical therapy for your lungs with the added benefit of making the rest of your muscles work better. It is proven to help increase lung function.

  1. Does pulmonary rehabilitation work?
     Yes, it does. Some of the possible benefits are:
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • A decrease in symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue
  • An improvement in health-related quality of life
  • Significant improvement in sleep quality
  • Increased knowledge of your disease and how to better manage it
  • Decrease in depression and anxiety
  • Decrease in “flare-ups,” meaning a possible decrease in medications taken
  • Increase in exercise capacity
  • The ability to return to work and participate in other activities
Certainly, every case is different, but you owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to slow, or possibly stop, the progression of your disease and enable yourself to live the best life possible.
  1. Who should participate?  

The majority of those referred to pulmonary rehab programs by their physicians are patients with COPD but studies show that pulmonary rehab may also be beneficial to any patient with respiratory symptoms that result in diminished functional lung capacity or decreased quality of life. This can include those with pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease or neuromuscular diseases, such as ALS.


  1. What happens during pulmonary rehab and what will I be doing?                                                                                                

Pulmonary rehab is tailored to each individual’s needs, goals and conditions. You will be evaluated by a physical therapist and/or respiratory therapist and a program will then be developed according to the results. The program will include exercise conditioning, breathing retraining, step and strengthening exercise, aerobic activity, nutritional counseling and an outcomes assessment evaluation of your progress.


  1. How can I participate?    

Talk to your physician. They will need to write a prescription for pulmonary rehab and will be able to recommend a facility close to your home.


  1. Will my insurance cover pulmonary rehab?  

That’s always the big question, isn’t it? And the answer is always the same—it depends. Your physician’s office will be able to determine if you qualify, how much will be covered and for how long. You may have a co-pay, so please be sure you are aware of what your financial responsibility will be, but don’t let that keep you from reaping the benefits of pulmonary rehab.


  1. Does Breathe PA have a program that can help?  

Yes, we do. As part of our patient assistance program we are able to work with your rehab facility to determine if financial help is needed for you to attend and keep attending your rehab sessions. We work with a few facilities at this time, so don’t hesitate to ask your therapist if you qualify.