If you, or a loved one, suffers with a chronic lung disease, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis, there is hope for rebuilding strength and enjoying a more full and active life through pulmonary rehabilitation. These programs are designed to improve lung function, reduce symptom severity, and improve quality of life.

What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of education and exercise to increase awareness about your lungs and your disease. You will learn to achieve exercise with less shortness of breath. The classes are offered in a private setting so you can receive individualized treatment. The skills and knowledge learned in the program will help you feel better and manage your chronic lung disease. You’ll become stronger by increasing your level of fitness. Exercising your lungs and your muscles helps you be more active so you can do the things you enjoy with your loved ones. Pulmonary rehabilitation may even decrease the need for hospital visits.

Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation right for me?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended for patients with lung disease who experience shortness of breath frequently and are not able to perform daily activities despite daily use of medication. Many patients in rehabilitation programs have a diagnosis of COPD, but these programs also help people with other types of chronic lung disease that limits breathing and activity.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation can improve quality of life.

Guthrie County Hospital offers a six-week program that meets twice a week. The program is designed to meet the following goals:

  • Reduction of dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Increase in exercise tolerance and performance
  • Enhanced ability to perform daily activities
  • Better knowledge of lung disease and lung care
  • Improved sense of well being
  • Reduced hospitalizations and use of medical resources

It uses several approaches to meet these goals, including exercise training, breathing retraining, nutrition training, medication information, and education.

When someone is short of breath, they become out of shape. It is uncomfortable to exercise, and they worry that they may be hurting their body doing the things that add to their shortness of breath. Activity becomes even more difficult, they become even more fearful and short of breath, so they do even less. Eventually any activity becomes difficult, and they try to do as little as possible.

Living with lung disease can frustrate, anger, or depress you. Some individuals deny that there is a problem. These emotions are normal, but they can interfere with quality of life and the ability to care for oneself.

Fortunately, Pulmonary Rehabilitation will help break this cycle. Regardless of what type of lung disease. Pulmonary Rehabilitation will provide benefits. Pulmonary Rehabilitation can help prevent infection and complications of lung disease. It may even prevent the disease from becoming worse.

With the help of trained professionals, they will review and help someone understand the treatment plan so that they can reduce symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. By the end of Pulmonary Rehabilitation, one will have increased strength and endurance to complete activities of daily living. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is not a program that can be forgotten about after completion. Pulmonary rehabilitation will teach what to do to maintain the goals that are achieved throughout the program. It is encouraged to bring a close friend or family member to participate in as many rehabilitation sessions as possible so that they can supportive and understanding of the lifestyle and treatment plan.

Exercise Training

Patients will be individually assessed by our Pulmonary Rehab Staff and an individual program of exercise will be developed and implemented to increase strength and endurance. Exercise is done at each session (twice a week) and patients are expected to exercise on their own as well. The benefits of exercise will be increased strength and endurance. An added benefit of exercise is that toned muscles utilize oxygen more efficiently and will therefore relieve some of the dyspnea (shortness of breath) they may now feel with activity.

The Respiratory Therapist will monitor the heart and lungs throughout the exercise sessions by keeping track of the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, lung sounds and oxygen level.

Breathing Retraining

The Respiratory Therapist will teach breathing techniques that will help control dyspnea (shortness of breath) and trapped air. These techniques will be practiced at every session so that they will become comfortable with the method of breathing that will help when shortness of breath occurs.


Each pulmonary rehabilitation session includes education. Lectures, handouts, and videos will be used. These educational materials will help with the understanding of health and how lung problem scan be better managed. Questions and discussion on every topic are highly encouraged.

Throughout Pulmonary rehabilitation there will be the opportunity to meet with other members of the health care team including a Registered Dietician, Pharmacist, and Social Worker.


Our Registered Dietitian will meet with you to discuss how nutrition plays a role in your overall pulmonary treatment plan. They are a great resource for any nutritional questions.


A pharmacist will discuss your medications with you and explain how each of them works to help you breathe. During this session we encourage you to ask questions about all your medication.

Social Services

Our social worker will meet with you to discuss advanced directives. They are also available if you would like to discuss any aspect of your health care including financial, insurance or personal issues.

It is vitally important that you attend EVERY SESSION. Many professionals will be working with you throughout this program, but YOU are the most important member of this healthcare team.

For more information, please contact the GCH Pulmonary Rehab Department at 641-332-3904.

Shari Carroll, RRT/RCP

American Lung Association, The Basic of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The Basics of Pulmonary Rehabilitation | American Lung Association