Pulmonary Rehabilitation (Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Pneumonitis)

Pulmonary rehabilitation refers to a supervised medical program that assists patients with lung diseases to live and breathe better.

You may require pulmonary rehabilitation if you have a lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and pneumonitis. One gets to learn exercises and breathing techniques during the program.

Your healthcare provider may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation to improve your quality of life and help you breathe easier for certain lung conditions such as COPD, asthma and pneumonitis.

You may also be recommended this program before and after surgery for lung transplant or lung cancer.

Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you lessen symptoms of depression or anxiety, gain strength and make it easy for you to manage routine activities and work of your daily lifestyle.


What does a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program Include?

Your pulmonary rehabilitation may be done in the hospital or a clinic, or you may learn physical therapy or breathing exercises to perform at home.

A pulmonary rehabilitation program has several components, such as:

1. Exercise
2. Inspiratory muscle training
3. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
4.Psychosocial counseling
5.Nutritional assessment
6.Medications and education



Exercise training is the most critical element of pulmonary rehabilitation. It lowers the effects of deconditioning and inactivity, leading to less shortness of breath and an improved ability to exercise.

Aerobic exercise and strength training are both vital for patients with lung diseases.

1. Lower body: Most rehab centres provide a set of exercises that focus on leg workouts. They range from simple walking on a treadmill/around a track to more intense stair climbing.

Some individuals may prefer exercising on a stationary bicycle.


2. Upper body: Exercising arms is beneficial for people with chronic lung diseases who have shortness of breath or other symptoms during their normal activities. Arm and chest exercises might include lifting your arms against gravity or turning a crank against resistance.


3. Breathing: To improve the strength of your breathing muscles, blowing through a mouthpiece against resistance is recommended. This exercise may be helpful for people with very weak breathing muscles.


4. Strength training: Most pulmonary rehab exercises focus on building endurance. Adding strength training, such as lifting weights, has been shown to be helpful as well.


Inspiratory muscle training

Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) is generally a component of pulmonary rehabilitation. With IMT, the person utilizes breathing exercises to toughen the muscles included in breathing.

IMT is generally usually used together with traditional aerobic exercise.


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) utilizes a device that generates electrical impulses through the skin to particular muscles to stimulate contraction. NMES is effective in people with severe lung disease because it does not result in shortness of breath.


Psychosocial counseling

Anxiety or depression are common among people who are struggling with lung diseases. In fact, shortness of breath itself may lead to depression, hamper sexual activity and cause difficulty managing anxiety.

With group therapy and counselling, people can easily cope with such psychosocial issues. Many times, even family members participate in counselling to help their loved ones cope with the anxiety effectively.


Nutritional assessment

Individuals suffering from lung diseases usually require nutritional evaluation. For example, people who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often experience weight loss. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs help such people prevent weight loss and maintain muscle mass.

People are usually taught to eat in a manner by which they can maintain calorie intake without becoming too full, as it can interfere with breathing.


Medications and education

Patients suffering from severe lung disease often take certain drugs. These drugs must be consumed according to correct instructions and a proper schedule.

Through a proper rehabilitation program, people can learn about the suitable timing and doses of all medications they need to take.

Education generally includes information about the nature of lung disease and the role of drug therapy. Programs carefully monitor how well people follow instructions and teach them and their families about the significance of proper use.

In addition, people are also taught about the need for stopping smoking, various breathing strategies and the principles of sustaining physical energy.


Final words

Generally, the pulmonary rehabilitation period lies between 2 to 3 weekly sessions or even lasting several weeks or months.

When your program ends, you will be recommended tests to check your lung function and whether your breathing has enhanced.

The Physiotherapy Department at Neotia Getwel Healthcare Centre focuses on the development, maintenance and restoration of functional efficiency in people who need rehabilitation services. The primary focus is to restore the body’s normal functioning and protect it from functional limitations caused by any disease, trauma or injury.



Though all attempts are made to provide correct information on the subject, inadvertent & typographical errors arising out of manual intervention cannot be ruled out. It is requested to bring any such discrepancies to the notice of the blogger for correction.