Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD can make everyday life a challenge.  Routine therapy can help improve your condition.

COPD is currently the third leading cause of hospital readmissions in the United States.  Although COPD is progressive, medical rehab and guided exercises can improve breathing, alleviate symptoms, and help keep you out of the hospital.  We work to help you take control to manage chronic conditions and enjoy a better quality of life.  Studies show participants in routine, structured pulmonary therapy are 50% less likely to be readmitted to the hospital for COPD.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease, increasingly blocking the airway to the lungs and causing a feeling of breathlessness.  COPD results from exposure to gases or particles in the air, most often from cigarette smoke.  COPD includes conditions such as emphysema, which prevents the lungs from absorbing oxygen, and chronic bronchitis, which prevents enough air from effectively reaching the lungs at all.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

Symptoms of COPD often do not appear until after a significant amount of damage has already occured.  Over time, the symptoms tend to worsen, especially if unmanaged or if the cause (i.e. smoking) continues. 

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath (especially after physical exertion)
  • Chronic coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Excess mucus or having to clear your throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Lack of energy
  • Reoccurring respiratory infections

COPD frequently lead to "exacerbations," a period of several days in which symptoms become worse than normal, sometimes bad enough to require hospitalization.

What can happen if I don't manage my COPD?

When the body does not intake enough oxygen, it can affect many major systems.  Left unmanaged, the symptoms of COPD can significantly worsen, and increases risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, and mental illnesses, such as depression.

What is involved in Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Participants in the Pulmonary Rehab program meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 35 minute sessions.  Each participant's physical activity plan is developed and individualized based on what they are capable of handling.  In 10 minute segments, participants use various equipment, including treadmills, airdyne bicycles, rowers, nusteps, ellipticals, and arm ergometers.  Jan Pistole, RN, CEN works with participants to set goals and recommend rates on each machine that fall within their tolerance.  Oxygen is provided for participants needing support while exercising.

Through the program, participant's work to improve endurance and muscle strength, which in turn improves the quality of life.  Oximetry and cardiac monitoring are performed during exercise, and weight is monitored weekly.  This data allows staff and physicians to individualize and modify each participant's plan and ensure goals are safely met.

Coordinator Jan Pistole and her staff get to know each participant intimately, so they understand each person's lifestyle and how that plays a role in managing their conditions.  Participants also get to know each other closely in the fun, friendly environment in Pulmonary Rehab.  

Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation covered by insurance?

That depends.  Insurance providers prefer to keep patients out of the hospital and manage their conditions at home.  We recommend communicating closely with your provider and insurance, who can help determine if pulmonary rehab is considered medically necessary.  

How do I get started with Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

A provider referral is required for the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.  Contact your provider to discuss if the program would benefit you.

What should I do if I think I have COPD?

If you experience any of the symptoms related to COPD, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and share your concerns.  In addition to evaluating your conditions, your provider can refer you to a pulmonary physician or respiratory therapist for more thorough testing and recommendations.  A provider referral is required for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Can I continue the program after my referral has ended?

Perry offers a Prevention Wellness Exercise Program to support patients who want to continue to manage and improve their pulmonary conditions through long-term rehab.  Contact the Pulmonary Rehabilitation department to learn more about this program.

How can I learn more about the Pulmonary Rehab program?

For more information about Perry’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department, please call 815-876-4472.