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What is pulmonary rehabilitation?
When you have a lung problem, particularly a long term one, you can find it difficult to move around or do your normal daily activities without getting short of breath. You may also find that you get tired very easily and often feel exhausted. Getting out of breath can be very unpleasant and frightening. To try and avoid this feeling, people often reduce the amount of activity they do. However this does not help, as over time, your muscles weaken so you become less fit, less able to exercise and even more breathless. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help to break this negative cycle. It is designed to help you cope with your breathlessness and feel stronger and fitter at the same time.
What does it involve?
Pulmonary rehabilitation classes are run at Milton Keynes Hospital in the physiotherapy gym every Wednesday and Friday. The course involves attending a group session twice a week for 7 weeks or once a week for 14 weeks. There is also an educational talk run by a different professional each week offering advice on lung health and coping with breathlessness.
Each class begins with everyone completing a gentle warm up. Following this you are supported to work through an individual exercise programme that includes some strengthening exercises for your arms and legs and endurance activities to help improve your stamina and exercise tolerance. Don’t worry about what anyone else in the class is doing, it is important to work at your own pace. You will get out of breath but this is part of the therapy. You should be breathless but not speechless. You will always be monitored and never asked to do more than you really think you can.
You should be breathless but never speechless.
How can I start?
If you are interested in attending pulmonary rehabilitation then, with your knowledge and consent, your ward physiotherapist, GP or consultant will send a referral to the physiotherapy department. You should then receive a letter or phone call at home inviting you to come and have a one to one assessment with a qualified physiotherapist to check it is suitable for you to attend the group. During the assessment you will be asked to complete a walking test so that we can see how much your shortness of breath affects you.
This test will be repeated again once you have completed your course of pulmonary rehabilitation so that we can see any improvements you have made.
Who should consider pulmonary rehabilitation?
Anyone with a breathing problem that affects their ability to do daily physical activities will benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation. Most commonly this is caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), however people with asthma and other chronic lung diseases may also benefit.
The people who do best from pulmonary rehabilitation are likely to be those who want to help themselves, are keen to learn and have a positive attitude. It is important to understand the benefits of exercise and be willing to try and exercise independently at home too.
There are additional groups run in the community at Bletchley and Stony Stratford. If you are unable to attend the sessions available at the hospital, please discuss with your physiotherapist about
being referred to the community team instead.