Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Henry Ford Health System’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program can help you better manage chronic lung disease. It also helps some patients prepare for and recovery from lung surgery, including lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) and lung transplantation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a supervised exercise program for anyone with a diagnosed lung disease who experiences shortness of breath.

But pulmonary rehabilitation is much more than exercise. It’s a complete program that can help you manage other medical issues that go along with your lung condition. It can help you be less short of breath, able to walk a distance or climb stairs, and dress and shower more easily. Best of all, it can give you more energy to live your daily life and enjoy your family.

Who can benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation can benefit people with:

  • Emphysema and chronic bronchitis: People with these and other types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can find some relief using pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is required for people who qualify for lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS).
  • Shortness of breath: Symptoms of lung diseases can improve through the exercises you’ll learn in pulmonary rehabilitation. We work with people who have conditions including asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and sarcoidosis.
  • Lung transplant: We use pulmonary rehabilitation as a dedicated conditioning program before and after lung transplant. People usually attend three days a week before a lung transplant, and four days a week after their transplant. This program allows people to return home and recover faster. In some individuals, it helps them leave the ICU sooner -- and may even help them live longer. Learn more about lung transplant.
  • Bronchiectasis: Bronchiectasis is a condition that happens after an infection or injury causes the airways to widen. The widened airways have trouble clearing mucus. People may develop bronchiectasis because of cystic fibrosis or from another cause. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic (inherited) lung condition that causes mucus to thicken and accumulate.

What does pulmonary rehabilitation involve?

We offer pulmonary rehabilitation at several locations around Michigan. During the program, you will perform supervised activities like walking, riding a recumbent bike and strength training. 

Pulmonary rehabilitation takes place in our fitness center, near our physical therapy and occupational therapy facilities. Respiratory therapists create your exercise program and supervise you while you exercise. If a problem arises, medical help is just steps away.

Most people take part in the program three times a week for six to 12 weeks. Your frequency will depend on your condition and your insurance coverage. Most people attend a total of 18 to 36 sessions, with the opportunity to continue on a maintenance basis.

Evaluation and enrollment in pulmonary rehabilitation

We work to make sure lung rehabilitation will help you and be safe for you. Before you enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation:

  1. Your pulmonologist (lung specialist) will refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation.
  2. Our program coordinator, under the guidance of the medical director, will evaluate you. This meeting ensures that you can safely and effectively participate in the pulmonary rehabilitation program.
  3. Before you start the program, you’ll attend an orientation. This session tells you what to expect from pulmonary rehabilitation.
  4. Once you enroll, we’ll identify your short- and long-term goals. We’ll develop an individualized treatment plan (ITP) to meet your educational and conditioning needs.
  5. You’ll have access to support from other experts, as needed. These professionals may include:
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Nutritional counselors
  • Psychiatrists for psychological support

Patient education

We educate you about lung disease. Our goal is to help you understand and stick with the action plan we develop just for you. The topics covered in education sessions include:

  • How COPD affects the lungs
  • Managing shortness of breath
  • Relaxation and stress management
  • Medications
  • Preventing and treating complications, such as respiratory infection and congestive heart failure (CHF)

Therapeutic exercise for lung disease

Exercise training for people with chronic lung disease has been shown to improve shortness of breath, the ability to perform normal activities and overall quality of life. You’ll participate in supervised exercise sessions three days per week for at least six weeks.

We’ll design a customized exercise program with activities specific to your needs and lifestyle. Activities include flexibility and strengthening exercises along with walking, bicycling and arm exercises. We’ll be with you each step of the way to make sure you are progressing at the right pace for you.

Maintenance and follow-up

After you complete the educational and conditioning portions of the program, we’ll help you maintain your pulmonary health by:

  • Providing an individualized maintenance program that you can follow at home. We’ll check in with you by phone.
  • Inviting you to participate in bi-weekly maintenance sessions at the pulmonary rehabilitation center, for a small fee.
  • Giving you a record of your progress that you can share with your doctor.

Make an appointment

You must have a physician referral to join the pulmonary rehabilitation program. Please see your doctor first.

If you have already completed pulmonary rehabilitation and want to participate in maintenance, you do not need a referral.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call (313) 916-1067.

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