Pulmonary Rehabilitation | American Lung Association

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Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Hear Bill and Katherine Carroll, a real life patient and caregiver, discuss their experience with COPD and pulmonary rehabilitation.

If you, or a loved one, suffers with a chronic lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), there is hope for rebuilding strength and enjoying a more full and active life through pulmonary rehabilitation. These programs offer are designed to improve lung function, reduce symptom severity and improve quality of life.

What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of education and exercise to increase awareness about your lungs and your disease. You will learn to achieve exercise with less shortness of breath. The classes are offered in a group setting so you get the chance to meet others with your condition, give support to them, as well as receive support from them. The skills and knowledge learned in the program will help you to feel better and manage your chronic lung disease. You become stronger by increasing your level of fitness. Exercising your lungs and your muscles helps you be more active so you can do the things you enjoy with your loved ones. Pulmonary rehabilitation may even decrease the need for hospital visits.

Learn more about how pulmonary rehab can help you breathe.

Who Administers Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Your rehab team often includes doctors, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, exercise specialists and dietitians. Together these health professionals create a personal program to meet your specific needs.

Where Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation Administered?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an outpatient program and may be based in a hospital or a clinic. You may also be able to receive certain forms of pulmonary rehabilitation in your own home.

Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation Right for Me?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended for patients with COPD who experience shortness of breath frequently and are not able to do daily activities despite daily medication use. Many patients in rehabilitation programs have a diagnosis of COPD, but these programs also help people with other types of chronic lung disease that limits breathing and activity.

To find out if you or someone you love would benefit from a pulmonary rehabilitation program contact your doctor, or call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872). Our Lung HelpLine is staffed by experienced registered nurses and registered respiratory therapists who can help you learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation as well as help find programs near you.

See if there's a pulmonary rehabilitation program near you.


    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 15, 2016.

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