This blog was written in conjunction with Diane Ruiz, RRT.
If you have a chronic or ongoing lung condition, your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation. People with lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, antitrypsin deficiency or other breathing conditions may feel limited in their daily lives because they have — and worry about having — shortness of breath and fatigue.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program that helps improve the well-being and quality of life for patients with these chronic conditions.
Participation in a pulmonary rehab program usually requires a referral by a primary care physician or a pulmonologist, and approval by your insurance company. To qualify, you must be smoke-free for three months before starting the program. It may take several weeks to get scheduled for an upcoming program.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Orlando Health
Orlando Health’s pulmonary rehab program is a 24-visit program, with three visits per week for eight weeks. When you enter the program, you’ll come in for your first visit, where you’ll work directly with a registered respiratory therapist/wellness coordinator. This will give you an opportunity to learn how the program is structured. It will also give the therapist a chance to see how your breathing responds to some initial exercise and what your oxygen requirements are.
After the initial visit, the registered respiratory therapist will create an individualized care plan that is reviewed by the medical director. When you come in to start the program, you will exercise to increase strength and endurance, perhaps on the treadmill, stationary bike, stepper or with hand or body weights. Although the sessions are held in a group, you will follow your individual exercise plan. You will also have educational sessions on breathing techniques, medication, oxygen safety, nutrition and how to plan your day.
The combination of exercise and education will help you gain more control over your condition and day. By expanding your capacity for activity and by understanding how to manage your condition, you can feel more confident in being an advocate for your health, which can reduce hospital admissions and decrease hospital stay.
As with any exercise program, there is a risk of injury. However, patient safety is the primary concern. And with supervised, individualized programs, you have the best opportunity for improvement based on a plan that is tailored to your needs.
Making the Most of Pulmonary Rehab
Like any exercise program, you get out of it what you put into it. While it is natural to be tentative about how hard to push yourself physically, it is important to trust the registered respiratory therapist and plan that has been created. Many people are able to go beyond what they believed they could do. Orlando Health creates a safe environment with medical supervision, oxygen to use during exercise and encouragement to help you improve your health.
Showing up consistently is key. We ask that participants commit to the 24-visit program by attending three times per week to yield the greatest results.
Orlando Health also offers the “Better Breathers Club” with the American Lung Association on the third Tuesday of every month. For more information, you can call 321.841.4194.
While there isn’t a cure for chronic lung conditions, pulmonary rehab helps you make the most of your capacity, learn to control and manage your condition, and improve your quality of life.
Request an Appointment with an Orlando Health Physician
Our Pulmonary and Cardiac Specialists will work together to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation program to help you return to your best pulmonary and cardiac health.Request an Appointment Today