Pulmonary wellness programs improve quality of life

When something interferes with a person’s oxygen delivery, his or her quality of life is often significantly impacted by illness such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

COPD is a category of pulmonary conditions in which a lung obstruction impairs normal oxygen delivery to the body. For a person suffering from COPD or similar pulmonary condition, simple activities such as walking or doing household chores can become a challenge, causing fatigue and shortness of breath.

Fortunately, treatment options can help people struggling with pulmonary disease to improve their quality of life. In addition to medications prescribed by a doctor to improve breathing, patients may opt for pulmonary rehabilitation – an evidence-based treatment designed to improve their overall wellness through education and exercise. 

Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine offers a Pulmonary Wellness Program to help individuals with pulmonary disease reach their health goals and maintain their highest possible quality of life. In addition, participants gain a better understanding of their particular condition and how to effectively manage it.

The program, led by licensed physical therapists, respiratory therapists and nutritionists, features an individualized exercise program as well as outpatient physical therapy and education tailored to individuals with pulmonary disease.

At the beginning of the Pulmonary Wellness Program, we test each person to assess breathing proficiency and fitness levels. Then, participants attend two sessions per week, which focus on aerobic exercise, flexibility training and strength training for increased fitness and endurance. 

Throughout each session, we monitor heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream via a pulse oximeter, a small device that clips to the end of one finger. These measures help us ensure each person is working at the appropriate intensity.

In addition to exercise, the Pulmonary Wellness Program provides education on proper breathing exercises, energy conservation techniques, medications, and proper nutrition. The goal is to help each person manage their symptoms and their medications properly. 

One specific health issue we focus on is endurance, so people can perform the activities they enjoy with less difficulty. This might include walking a certain distance before becoming short of breath, or reducing the need for regular supplemental oxygen.

Anyone who thinks they may benefit from the Pulmonary Wellness Program should ask their primary care doctor or pulmonologist. A diagnosis of pulmonary disease and a doctor’s referral are required for participation. Medicare and other insurance plans provide coverage for the Pulmonary Wellness Program.