Are you contemplating pulmonary rehabilitation as part of your IPF treatment?

Pulmonary rehabilitation includes exercise training; breathing exercises; anxiety, stress, and depression management; nutritional counseling; education; and more. The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to restore your ability to function without extreme breathlessness and allow you to safely exercise. It improves both exercise capacity and health-related quality of life for many people living with PF. These programs offer a variety of services and can be inpatient, outpatient, or home/community-based. While pulmonary rehabilitation programs vary, they may comprise a multidisciplinary team of nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers, dietitians, and others.

The Possible Benefits of Pulmonary Rehab

As mentioned above, pulmonary rehab has been studied as a treatment in several different lung diseases and shown to have benefits for many patients who use it. Although there is not as much data on pulmonary rehab for people with IPF, a number of studies have shown it to provide benefits in IPF. These include:

  • Improved breathlessness
  • Increased ability to exercise
  • Improved sense of well-being, quality of life, and a more positive outlook
  • Reduced anxiety and depression

Pulmonary rehab has been shown to be safe in people with IPF. There are few risks associated with pulmonary rehab that are generally related to the exercise part of the program. As with any physical training activity, there may be a very slight increase in muscle soreness. Also, physical activity can increase the risk of chest pain or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Working in collaboration, your rehab specialist and your doctor will determine how much additional oxygen you may need as your exercise program is developed.

Although leading medical guidelines recommend that most patients with IPF receive pulmonary rehab, it may not be right for everyone. You should discuss the option of pulmonary rehab with your doctor to see if your condition allows it and if it might be of benefit to you.