What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Vaidehi by. July 26, 2022

Just over 2 years ago, COVID-19 wasn’t a thing that anybody could even have imagined. Now, we’re all experts in virology. What we do know is that some of the strains of COVID-19 are extremely infectious and very dangerous. We speak about long COVID, but without a real understanding of what that really is and the long term effects that this can have on our bodies. What we do know, however, is that research has shown that the virus mainly affects the respiratory system, causing a shortage of breath, restriction in physical ability, increased fatigue and a generally negative impact on the quality of life.

In this blog, I want to talk about the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation (more on that in a moment) and how physiotherapy is the secret tool that you didn’t know existed to improve your recovery after COVID-19.

So, let’s begin with pulmonary rehabilitation. What exactly is it?

The British Lung Foundation, who are the experts in all things lung related, define Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) as a ‘tailored and supervised program designed by trained care professionals’ such as Physiotherapists. When we put together your individual program, we’d include tips and information on how to look after your body and lungs and advice on how to manage your condition and symptoms. The latest research has shown that PR is a safe, effective, and feasible programme which aims to improve exercise performance, lung function and the quality of life in patients who have had COVID-19.

How does the PR program work in COVID-19?

The severity of the effects of COVD-19 can vary wildly, depending on the person. However, irrespective of the severity of the condition, a person can still experience the symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue, increased stress and a reduced physical capacity. According to a recent study, a supervised PR program lasting from 6-9 weeks followed by further maintenance can help improve your exercise capacity and help you return to work.

What does the PR programme involve?

During the first appointment, your Physiotherapist will take a baseline assessment, which means that they will check your lung capacity and other things to do with your breathing, sometimes after doing some physical activity. But don’t worry, we won’t be making you sprint around the car parks at our Maidstone or Sittingbourne clinics! Following this assessment, in consultation with your Physiotherapist, you will design a program which is designed especially for you. We will monitor your oxygen and pulse rates throughout the whole program to check how you are and also to measure your progress.

During the program, we will talk about :

  • Education and advice regarding your condition
  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Exercises to improve functional capacity
  • Progressed aerobic exercise training
  • How to perform everyday tasks with fewer breathing problems
  • How to stay healthy and avoid any worsening of your condition
  • Support for lifestyle changes

What are the benefits of PR?

The program helps you stay active and healthy. Being physically active through PR has many benefits:

  • Helps strengthen the respiratory muscles
  • Improves circulation and keeps your heart healthy
  • Improves exercise performance and aerobic capacity
  • Reduces the severity of breathlessness
  • Prevents further respiratory complications
  • Builds your confidence
  • Helps reduce stress and anxiety
  • Added benefits for preventing systemic problems such as high blood pressure and risk of heart diseases

You will be surprised to see how much you can achieve just by following the safe exercise programme!

If you have any questions, then you can always email me or call, or see me at either the Maidstone or Sittingbourne Physiotherapy Clinics.

Follow my next blog for some tips on breathing exercises!

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