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Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Designed to help manage breathing & make day-to-day living easier

What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme for people with breathing problems. It is designed to help you manage your breathing and make your day-to-day living easier. It consists of a designed and supervised programme of exercise and education. The programme is tailored to meet the needs of each patient.

Download our  booklet for more information.

Pulmonary Rehab Information Booklet

Who is the programme for?

Anybody with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), who is limited by their breathlessness.

Your GP or practice nurse can refer you to Pulmonary Rehabilitation. You can also be referred by the community COPD team if you are under their care.

What happens on the programme?


At the start of the programme you will have an appointment with an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist to assess your general health and exercise ability.

You will be asked to:
a) Complete some questionnaires that tell us about breathing
b) Undertake an exercise test, so we can measure how much you are able to manage before you start the programme.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

What happens after the assessment?

You will be invited to attend the programme twice a week for 6 weeks, on Monday and Thursday afternoons. Exercise sessions are run in small groups, with each session split into two parts:

Exercise classes

Overseen by health professionals in a safe environment, to help you with exercises you can do on a regular basis to improve your breathing.

Sessions consist of a group warm-up, individualised strength and aerobic exercises followed by a group cool-down.

Those with limited mobility can instead participate in the functional exercise classes- (please insert link to Functional exercise page).

Informal discussions

A number of different topics are covered to help you learn more about the lungs, your breathing and the management of your condition.

Points covered include

What is COPD?
Managing exacerbations (flare ups) of COPD
Nutrition & COPD
Getting the best out of your inhalers.
Oxygen therapy in COPD
Physical activity and exercise
Sputum clearance
Breathe easy support group
Breathlessness management
Benefits entitlement
Coping with COPD
Smoking cessation (one-to-one appointments)

Once you have completed the programme, we repeat the questionnaires and exercise assessment to determine your level of improvement.

You will also be invited to continue with a tailored exercise programme for a small charge. (link to ongoing exercise sessions).

For more information about Pulmonary Rehabilitation, please contact Jon Prosser or Louisa Stonehewer on 024 7623 4570. If you are a health professional and wish to arrange rehabilitation sessions for a patient with moderate, severe or very severe COPD (MRC 3-5), the referral forms are available on the GP Gateway.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary Rehabilitation – case study

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is recognised by doctors as being the most effective treatment for breathlessness caused by Chronic Respiratory Conditions. It is a combination of physical exercise and advice on self-management. While this does not involve ‘learning how to breathe’ in group sessions, breathing exercises and breathing control are an integral part of learning how to maximise lung function. Mr T was referred to us for assessment for Pulmonary Rehab. He had a diagnosis of COPD.

He was still working, although he was finding it more difficult to manage a whole day at work. He was troubled by his breathing and by blocked sinuses. He also had a lot of leg and back pain which were hampering him in his daily life. He was distressed by all his symptoms and felt there was probably nothing that could be done for him. He was still smoking and although he was aware that he was doing himself harm, at the time he did not feel strong enough to give up.


The programme

Mr T was assessed by a qualified member of staff who quickly identified that the more stressed and worried he was the worse his multiple symptoms became. He was shown on some basic breathing exercises to help reduce panic and distress to do when he became breathless. He was also advised on how to help clear his sinuses, and how to move his sputum more effectively.

He completed two walk tests to establish his level of fitness. These revealed that he would probably benefit from having some Oxygen, but it was explained to him that as he was still smoking he would not qualify for this treatment. Instead it was decided that, with careful monitoring, he would join the programme. Following assessment and the advice Mr T reported already feeling more optimistic about his future.

He attended the course regularly for six weeks. After this he was able gradually to increase the strength and duration of his exercises, though extra care was taken to not aggravate his on-going back problems.

On re-assessment he had doubled the walking distance in his walk tests. He was also asked to complete two questionnaires pre and post-class. These questionnaires focused on the psychological and physical impact of having a Chronic (or long-term) Respiratory Complaint.

Although during the course he had reported he was gradually feeling better each week, Mr T was surprised to see how much better he scored after six weeks.


The future

Mr T is aware that by continuing to smoke he is denying himself the opportunity to try Oxygen, which is limiting how much he would be able to improve. He is hoping that now he feels stronger both physically and emotionally he may be able to stop in the near future.

He has now joined our gym, and is continuing to exercise on a regular basis with support from the whole exercise team. There is no upper or lower level of fitness required for people to benefit from Pulmonary Rehab. Becoming breathless after walking across the room is quite normal for our patients.
We do not exclude those who are smoking, or have other conditions which may limit their ability to exercise. Although members exercise in a group each person has their own programme, which is adapted to their own individual needs and level of fitness.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary patient Sandra Price has become an invaluable asset, volunteering on reception since Atrium opened in 2012.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

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