Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week – June 15 to 19
People who suffer from lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Bronchiectasis or Chronic Asthma can often fall into a cycle of inactivity due to symptoms caused by their lung disease.
The main symptom of lung disease is shortness of breath on exertion, this can be an unpleasant and sometimes a frightening experience which can led to patients avoiding activities, doing less and as a result becoming deconditioned.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is aimed at people with a lung condition who’s ability to be active is limited by breathing difficulties and is the only treatment that will help to reduce breathlessness, increase exercise tolerance and improve quality of life.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a six to eight week course of twice weekly supervised exercise and health education sessions.
Sarah McCall, a Specialist Physiotherapist in the Community Respiratory team at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patients initially attend for a pre-course assessment where they would perform a walking test, complete some questionnaires and set goals they would like to achieve on completion of the course. The patients then start a course of Pulmonary Rehabilitation which could be held in a variety of locations within their local area, this may be in a community centre, leisure centre or hospital.
“The sessions give patients an opportunity to exercise in a safe controlled environment under the supervision of a Specialist Respiratory Team. Patients are provided with an individual exercise plan which is tailored to the patient’s ability, and considers other health conditions they may have.
“The exercises consist of a combination of strengthening and cardiovascular exercises, these aim to help improve the patients overall strength and endurance. This allows the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently therefore helping to reduce patients breathlessness, increase exercise tolerance and allows patients to do more of what they enjoy or is important to them. It also helps to reduce the frequency of flare ups and reduces hospital admissions.”
The Education sessions are provided by not only the Specialist Respiratory Team but by a wider multi-disciplinary team and look to educate the patient about all aspects of their condition.
The sessions aim to provide patients with the tools and confidence to manage their condition on a day to day basis. The education sessions cover things such as understanding how the condition affects the body and why patient’s experience the symptoms they do, management of breathlessness and chest clearance techniques, medications, nutrition, managing flare ups, energy conservation and psychological wellbeing.
The classes are a great opportunity for patients to socialise and speak to others who suffer from the same condition and share their stories.
Sarah added: “At the end of the course we repeat the patients walking test and questionnaires, this is where we see all the patients hard work pay off and it helps to demonstrate the improvements they have made; as patients can walk further, walk for longer and feel less breathless doing so.”
William Irving, 79, enjoyed the course so much he became a Volunteer for the East Community Respiratory Team who run classes at Harraby Community Centre in Carlisle.
He said: “When I began I could hardly do anything at all, by the time I had finished I was a different person!”
Patients can attend a course of Pulmonary Rehabilitation annually and are encouraged to attend within four weeks of a hospital admission.
Sarah said: “Due to the current Covid-19 Pandemic the way we provide Pulmonary Rehabilitation has changed, as classes are currently unable to go ahead we are offering alternatives such as online or manual based Pulmonary Rehabilitation.”
You can access a course of Pulmonary Rehabilitation by contacting your GP or practice nurse who can refer you to your local service.
* The photo above was taken before social distancing rules came into force.