Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program for lung disease patients whose symptoms are impacting their everyday activities. It's designed to reduce symptoms, increase function and improve quality of life through exercise and education. Pulmonary rehabilitation is covered by most insurance programs, including Medicare.
Originally developed for patients with airway diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, people with interstitial lung disease have been shown to benefit greatly from pulmonary rehabilitation as well.
The programs are fairly standardized and usually consist of 12 to 18 sessions of two hours each. The sessions are typically held twice a week. Providers will try to work with your schedule. Each session consists of one hour of class on a topic related to lung disease, and one hour of supervised exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle, as well as weight training.
The classes cover topics such as lung disease, medications, nutrition, techniques to control shortness of breath, home exercise, psychosocial issues, relaxation techniques, energy conservation, smoking cessation, and types and use of the various oxygen systems.
Some of the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation include:
- Reduced respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue
- Increased ability to perform daily activities
- Improved quality of life
- Increased exercise performance
- Increased knowledge of lung disease
- Increased self-management of your lung disease
- Relief of anxiety and depression caused by lung disease symptoms
To enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, you will need a prescription from a doctor as well as medical records such as a recent pulmonary function test, an EKG, a brief medical history and a physical.
You can find a list of pulmonary rehab programs in California on the California Society for Pulmonary Rehabilitation website.
For information on UCSF's pulmonary rehab program, please call (415) 885-7755.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
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