While most chronic lung conditions have no cure, there are things that we can do to breathe easier, keep out of hospital and improve our quality of life. One of the important ones is doing pulmonary rehabilitation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program of education and exercise – and research has shown that it is effective.
Although pulmonary rehabilitation was originally designed for people with moderate to severe COPD, those with other chronic lung conditions who get disabling breathlessness can also benefit.
Evidence shows that it is one of the most effective interventions in COPD; it reduces symptoms and disability, reduces hospitalisation and improves function by:
- Improving our peripheral muscle function (arms and legs), cardiovascular fitness, muscle function and exercise endurance
- Enhancing our emotional function, self-confidence and coping strategies, and improving our adherence with medication
- Improving our mood by controlling anxiety and panic, decreasing depression, and reducing social impediments
In Western Australia three phases of pulmonary rehabilitation are provided by the Community Physiotherapy Service of the WA Department of Health and delivered by specialised pulmonary physiotherapists:
Phase 1 – individualised exercise program in hospital for certain people.
Phase 2 – two one-hour sessions of exercise and education a week for 8 weeks as an outpatient at hospital or in a community facility.
Phase 3 – a one-hour maintenance session a week as an outpatient at hospital or in a community facility.
Your exercise program is tailored to your capacity and health.
It comprises of arm and leg strengthening exercises and a timed and measured walk. You are encouraged to do this at home on days when you are not attending a pulmonary rehabilitation session.
To take part in pulmonary rehabilitation you need a referral by your respiratory specialist (not your GP). Pulmonary rehabilitation is provided at a range of locations across the Perth metropolitan area, and at some country WA locations.