If you have chronic breathing issues that make it difficult to do everyday activities like walking up a flight of stairs or getting dressed, we can help. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that uses exercise and education to help people manage symptoms of their chronic lung conditions.
Our team of respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists and dietitians works with you to develop a personalized program that uses exercise, lifestyle education and diet to help improve your quality of life and ability to exercise. We work together with your primary care doctor or pulmonologist to make sure you receive the right care during every step of your rehabilitation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation might be recommended to help you manage the symptoms of one of the following lung conditions:
- Acute bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Lung transplant
- Restrictive lung disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Pulmonary hypertension
The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to promote healthy lifestyle changes and to help you learn the best ways to manage your lung condition. It can help you improve shortness of breath, fatigue, how much you can exercise and your quality of life.
We’ll start with an evaluation where we talk to you about your symptoms, treatment options and goals. We’ll work with you to help you fully understand your condition and create a personalized treatment plan based on your unique needs. It’s common for pulmonary rehabilitation programs to include a combination of:
Understanding your condition can help you manage your symptoms and build your confidence. During rehabilitation, we’ll teach you about your specific condition and different options for managing your symptoms. You’ll also learn other ways to improve your quality of life, including:
- Breathing techniques
- How to create a home exercise plan
- How to manage feelings of panic or anxiety caused by shortness of breath
- Proper use of supplemental oxygen
- Techniques for secretion control
- The purpose and use of common breathing medications and inhalers
During supervised exercise, we’ll monitor you while you exercise in our fitness center. We’ll check your oxygen levels, heart rate and other vital signs to determine how well your exercise plan is working. Your personalized fitness plan will include both aerobic and strength exercises. You’ll be able to use our exercising equipment, including treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, NuStep seated stepper, free weights and other available equipment.
Our team will perform a nutritional consultation so you have a better understanding of how diet affects your overall health. Food diaries are sometimes used to help us get a better understanding of your eating habits.
We’ll teach you breathing exercises and strategies that help improve your breathing. Breathing exercises help strengthen your respiratory muscles so your breathing is less labored during exercise, keep your airways open longer and increase the amount of airflow in your lungs. Strengthening your lungs will make physical activities and exercise easier.
Encouragement and support from family, friends and other people going through the same thing is key for successful rehabilitation. If needed, we can help connect you with support groups, classes or mental health services for you and your loved ones. We’re moving our classes online so we can connect virtually while maintaining a safe physical distance. For more information about class schedules or how to sign up, contact your preferred pulmonary rehabilitation location.
We offer the following groups and classes:
These free classes meet regularly each month and help you learn the basics of home oxygen use.
The Better Breathers Club is a support group for people living with lung disease. We meet regularly to share our experiences and build a community.
Harmonicas for Health is a program of the COPD Foundation. Learn how to have better control of your breathing and exercise your breathing muscles while playing music. This fun group meets on a regular basis to practice and learn new songs.
A doctor’s referral is needed for pulmonary rehabilitation. You’ll also need pulmonary function testing before starting pulmonary rehabilitation. If your doctor has already referred you to pulmonary rehabilitation, you can choose a location to schedule an appointment. If you haven’t talked to a doctor about your lung health concerns, choose a doctor below to make an appointment with a pulmonologist.
Yes, if pulmonary rehabilitation will help manage the symptoms of your condition, your doctor will help you connect with one of our pulmonary rehabilitation teams. We’ll answer all your questions about what to expect and help you get started.
Pulmonary rehabilitation usually takes about 16 visits over a couple months. Your individual treatment plan is based on your specific needs, so your time in pulmonary rehabilitation might be a little longer or a little shorter depending on your lung condition. While you’re in rehabilitation, you should expect supervised exercise sessions two times per week.
You and your doctors work together as a team to help you improve your quality of life and manage the symptoms of your lung condition. Your health and success with pulmonary rehabilitation is our top priority, and we do our best to provide a well-rounded rehabilitation program. Along the way, you may work with:
- Respiratory therapists – A respiratory therapist specializes in working with patients who have a lung disease. They will work with you to improve your breathing technique, understand your oxygen needs and equipment, understand and correctly use your breathing medications, establish an action plan for your flare-ups, create an exercise plan, and monitor you while you exercise.
- Exercise physiologists or physical therapists – Exercise physiologists and physical therapists both specialize in using fitness to help improve their patients’ health. They will examine your fitness levels and create a plan to improve your ability to breathe. They’ll supervise your exercise to make sure it’s safe and effective.
- Dietitians – Our certified dietitians are experts in nutrition, here to help you create a healthy eating plan you can stick to. They’ll teach you how to make healthy choices, provide easy recipes and answer any questions you have.
Yes, the pulmonary rehabilitation team will remain in communication with your primary care doctor for any concerns we may have about your condition and progress. The pulmonary medical director will oversee your treatment plan and manage your progress through the program together with your pulmonary rehabilitation team.
After completing your pulmonary rehabilitation program, you should continue having regular check-ups with your primary care doctor to ensure you’re staying on track with your lung health.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Based upon your diagnosis, your insurance plan may cover pulmonary rehabilitation or respiratory therapy services.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: 877-842-3210