Benefits of attending Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Since winter months lend to exacerbations of COPD and other lung issues, and with the increased number of people struggling to recover from respiratory issues after Covid 19, I wanted to highlight some information and evidence based research to guide our patient care.  

Although it can be taxing for a patient to leave the house, recent research suggests it may well be worth it! Many studies have found patients to have positive outcomes after participating in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs. A recent study even found decreased mortality rates for patients with COPD, who participated in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. We need to make sure our patients understand the scientific benefits of attending outpatient programs!

What if a patient doesn’t want to attend Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Many home care patients I have had in the past have not felt comfortable or safe with attending outpatient programs.  They have preferred to work on their home program from Home Health Care as they recover. As Home Care clinicians we should educate our patients in the best practices. However, If they are not willing or able to attend an outpatient program, It is important that we make sure our care is thorough, and follows the guidelines of a PR program (as appropriate). 

The American Lung Association does a great job of describing the components of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. A good Pulmonary Rehab program should include:

Education in oxygen safety

Education in medication changes

Breathing exercises

Energy conservation tips

Safety/mobility in the home

Education in exacerbation management

Nutrition education

Education in prevention

Social/emotional concerns

Smoking cessation as needed

Along with, of course, our regular stretching, strengthening, endurance and balance activities!

Another important part of self care is teaching our patient to keep track of vitals faithfully.

Check out this pulse oximeter that I recommend, (affiliate link) to monitor your oxygen and heart rate at home.

And also, consider this blood pressure cuff to monitor blood pressure daily. (affiliate link)

And to keep track, here is a printable FREEBIE of one of my patient handouts- use this for yourself or to help your patient monitor vitals at home:

There is so much for a patient and family to learn to mange a respiratory illness! Nursing and therapy can work together to make sure the patient has the help they need, and to reinforce each other’s education.  We can make sure they are set up for long term success with thorough patient education handouts, organized information, and a well thought out plan for long term self care.  

You may want to check out this post on Respiratory Recovery with a FREEBIE educational handout!

I would love to hear what you think. What have you found to be helpful? What else do you include in respiratory care?

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