Your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation to help you breathe easier and improve your quality of life for certain lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pulmonary hypertension, and cystic fibrosis. It can also improve daily life for people who have scoliosis or other health problems that limit lung function. Your doctor may also recommend pulmonary rehabilitation before and after surgery for a lung transplant or lung cancer.
Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you gain strength, reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, and make it easier to manage routine activities, work, and outings or social activities that you enjoy.
You may have pulmonary rehabilitation in the hospital or a clinic, or you may learn physical therapy or breathing exercises to do at home. You may also use activity monitors or smartphone-based lessons or monitoring. Your team of healthcare providers will design a personal pulmonary rehabilitation plan based on your needs.
Pulmonary rehabilitation has few risks. Rarely, physical activity during the program can cause problems, such as injuries to your muscles and bones. If serious problems occur during the supervised sessions, your pulmonary rehabilitation team will stop the physical activity right away, give you the appropriate treatment, and contact your doctor.
Visit Pulmonary Rehabilitation for more information about this topic.
If your doctor recommends pulmonary rehabilitation, you will receive care from a team of healthcare providers, who will design a plan that fits your needs based on the health of your lungs, your age, and other health factors. After your program ends, your team will assess your lung function again to see if your breathing has improved.
Your healthcare team will include doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and psychologists or social workers.
To help design your pulmonary rehabilitation plan, your healthcare team may do one of the following tests:
Your pulmonary rehabilitation plan may include one or more of the following:
Usually, pulmonary rehabilitation is a series of two or three weekly sessions lasting several weeks or months. At the end of your program, your healthcare team will give you tests to assess your lung function again to see if your breathing has improved. Some of these tests, such as exercise tests, will be the same ones you had at the start of your program.
Learn about the following ways the NHLBI continues to translate current research into improved health for people with conditions benefiting from pulmonary rehabilitation. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBI’s broader commitment to advancing lung disease scientific discovery.
Several ongoing research efforts advance our understanding of lung disease and repair.
Learn about some of the pioneering research contributions we have made over the years that have improved clinical care.
In support of our mission, we are committed to advancing pulmonary rehabilitation research in part through the following ways.
Research can help us find ways to bring the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation to more people.
Learn about exciting research areas the NHLBI is exploring about pulmonary rehabilitation.
We lead or sponsor many studies on pulmonary rehabilitation. See if you or someone you know is eligible to participate in our clinical trials.
After reading our Pulmonary Rehabilitation Health Topic, you may be interested in additional information found in the following resources.