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Pulmonary rehabilitation can improve patients' quality of life, writes David Pitchforth.
Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a multi-disciplinary management programme for patients who have been diagnosed with some form of chronic respiratory impairment.
Its aim is to reduce disability and handicap in these patients, improve their quality of life and diminish their healthcare burden.1
In the past 10 years, a steady increase in research has added more and more weight to the notion that PR is one of the three cornerstones of treatment of COPD (the other two being drug optimisation and oxygen therapy).
At the start of this decade, PR was available to approximately 3 per cent of patients deemed appropriate for referral. However, access is rapidly increasing as a result of classes being started across the country and as the message about its importance spreads.
Key to the success of PR is the fine balance between group activity and individually tailored care. PR classes bring people out of their homes and into a situation where they can interact with other people with similar problems, while the individuality of exercise prescription and information provision serves to make the individual patient feel that they are being given one-on-one care in a group situation.
In the UK the availability of PR services is very patchy. Some areas have services in abundance in the community, in outpatient hospital settings or even through inpatient rehabilitation wards, while in other areas there is no service available.
Research has yet …