Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR)
Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is mainly for people who have chronic breathing problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) also known as emphysema, cystic fibrosis, sarcoidosis and more. PR can be part of an out-patient treatment clinic at a hospital. PR can also be also be offered at home, although many patients will opt for treatment in a rehab facility, especially seniors who live alone or may have additional medical problems.
For chronic diseases PR is usually a long ongoing kind of rehabilitation lasting a few months and involving a team made up of doctors, nurses, and respiratory, occupational and physical therapists. Since most of these chronic diseases are not curable, the main goal for PR is to improve quality of life.
Muscle Wasting Diseases
PR can also help people suffering from muscular dystrophy which is an incurable disease that causes weakening of muscles that can also lead to breathing disorders.
PR is also used before and after lung surgery.
Physical activities have to be designed for each person’s level of breathing difficulties. Emphasis is put on strengthening arm and leg muscles. When people have chronic breathing difficulties they have to rest more and more, and thus muscles begin to waste away and lose their strength, which in turn makes breathing even more difficult
Bronchodilators and Oxygen Therapy
Some patients will not be able to do any of the physical exercises without the use of a bronchodilator or oxygen.
Dietitians also play a role on the PR team, especially for seniors who are overweight or underweight. Carrying around extra or not enough poundage makes breathing even more difficult.
Smokers will be encouraged to quit and will be helped through the process of withdrawal from nicotine.
Anxiety and Depression
Counselors are also part of the PR picture, as many patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases may be depressed or suffering from anxiety.
Advanced Respiratory Rehab
Patients in advanced stages of breathing difficulties can reach the point where the only way they can breathe is by ventilators, oxygen therapy or by having a tracheotomy. The Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn NY has a state-of-the-art Respiratory Unit to wean patients off of ventilators and oxygen therapy.
Since respiratory illnesses are so devastating on the quality of life of those who are afflicted with them, it is imperative that they be directed to pulmonary rehabilitation.