Pulmonary Rehabilitation

What is pulmonary rehabilitation ?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a personalized program proposed to patients with chronic respiratory diseases, in order to reduce their handicap and improve their quality of life. It can be done in a specialized center, outpatient clinic or at home.

For example, a pathology such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) usually leads the patient into a spiral that severely deteriorates his or her quality of life. The disease results in a shortness of breath during efforts, resulting in a reduction in physical activity and a tendency to become sedentary, thus aggravating even further the shortness of breath. The patient is then caught in a spiral leading to disability.

The rehabilitation of the chronic respiratory patient allows for a personalized assistance, adapted to his or her lifestyle and living space, enabling him to get out of this vicious circle.

The method is long-term and requires the expertise of a multidisciplinary team.

The physiopathological and clinical objectives are:

  • To optimize the patient’s breathing and reduce the dyspnea (respiratory discomfort)
  • To improve the patient’s tolerance to exercise
  • To reduce the number of respiratory exacerbations (superinfections…)
  • To regain a good quality of life

Respiratory rehabilitation tools

Several pulmonary rehabilitation tools exist to help patients with COPD.

Exercise training

Exercise training is generally done on a stationary bicycle or treadmill for a defined duration and respecting a maximum heart rate also called ventilatory threshold. This “working” heart rate can be determined by a fitness test or a 6-minute walking test.

During the training sessions, the patient’s oxygen saturation and heart rate are monitored using an oximetry sensor placed on the patient’s finger.

Respiratory physiotherapy

The patient performs ventilation exercises as directed by a physiotherapist. The latter can also perform massages that promote bronchial drainage and help relieve the patient.

General physical activity 

Whether hospitalized or at home, the patient should engage in regular physical activity. This can include upper body muscle and / or lower limb strengthening exercises. The frequency and intensity of the exercises must be adapted according to the severity of respiratory restriction suffered by the patient.

Everyday activities and hygiene

During the rehabilitation program, the patient learns to manage fatigue and to control his breathing for everyday tasks such as climbing stairs, cleaning, cooking, dressing or gardening.

Caregivers also give patients dietary or lifestyle tips (e.g. smoking).

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