Respiratory Rehabilitation

Table of contents:
1- What is respiratory rehabilitation?
2- Why is it performed?
3- What does the respiratory rehabilitation technique consist of?
4- How is the preparation for respiratory rehabilitation?
5- Post-treatment care
6- Respiratory rehabilitation alternatives

What is respiratory rehabilitation?

Respiratory rehabilitation is fundamental in the treatment of respiratory diseases. It is a series of exercises that improve the physical condition of patients with pulmonary pathologies, improving not only their exercise capacity, but also their quality of life. On the other hand, it reduces infections and hospital admissions as a consequence of lung disease.

According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the European Respiratory Society, respiratory rehabilitation is an intervention seen from a comprehensive point of view that includes patient assessment and therapies such as muscle training, lifestyle changes and education. It aims to improve the physical and psychological condition of people with chronic respiratory diseases.

Why is it performed?

Respiratory rehabilitation is aimed at patients who have chronic respiratory diseases.

The respiratory exercises aim to:

  • Reduce respiratory distress.
  • Alleviate the sensation of suffocation or dyspnea in these patients.
  • Improve the patient’s mood and well-being.
  • Make it easier for them to carry out activities of daily living.
  • Reduce infections and hospital admissions as a consequence of their disease.

Some of the pathologies that benefit from this type of treatment are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy.

Respiratory rehabilitation includes exercises to
train and better control breathing

What does it involve?

First, tests to assess lung function and a blood test are usually performed. From there, there are several aspects that will be taken into account when carrying out a respiratory rehabilitation treatment:
– Exercise training: a plan of physical activities that seek to improve muscle strength and endurance should be followed. A bicycle, weights or treadmills can be used and it is advisable to start slowly and then, as the body gets stronger, increase the intensity of the exercise.
– Nutritional counseling: this aspect is fundamental since overweight or underweight can influence respiration.
– Education on how to control the disease: it is essential for the patient to know his or her own pathology and how it manifests itself in order to be able to control the symptoms.
– Techniques for daily activities: sudden movements such as stretching, standing up or bending can make breathing difficult, as they generally consume energy and tense the muscles.
– Breathing control techniques: aim to increase oxygen levels and keep the airway open longer.
– Psychological help: having trouble breathing often leads to psychological disorders or distress. Many patients with chronic respiratory diseases suffer from anxiety and depression.

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In many cases, the professional teams that implement respiratory rehabilitation include a physician, a pulmonologist, a rehabilitation physician and a physiotherapist. In addition, a psychologist or occupational therapist may sometimes be involved.

Preparing for respiratory rehabilitation

First of all, a comprehensive evaluation of the patient should be made. In many cases the need for an electrocardiogram, a gait test and stress tests is indicated.
Based on the results of the clinical determination, treatment and follow-up appropriate to the patient’s condition can be defined.

Aftercare after surgery

After a respiratory rehabilitation plan, it is advisable for the patient to follow a maintenance program. In addition, they can also resort to respiratory physiotherapy exercises.

Alternatives to this treatment

Respiratory physiotherapy can be an alternative to respiratory rehabilitation, although the latter acts from a more comprehensive approach.