Pulmonary Rehabilitation at a Skilled Nursing Center


If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a form of lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema and has been hospitalized, they may require additional care at a skilled nursing center to help them recover while managing their illness.

Residents with pulmonary conditions may have difficulty achieving activities of daily living, completing exercises, participating in hobbies, and may be at greater risk for developing future health complications, or rehospitalization.

Pulmonary rehabilitation at a skilled nursing center is intended to support residents living with lung disease to address their health barriers and reduce their risk of readmittance. This level of care helps optimize a resident’s respiratory function, manage their disease symptoms, improve their physical stamina, and enhance their overall quality of life.

Types of Lung Disease

Lung disease occurs in many different forms such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, and COPD and can affect a person’s overall recovery journey. It is important to understand the different forms of lung disease to ensure your loved one is receiving the skilled nursing care they require for their unique medical needs.

Tuberculosis occurs when the lungs capture bacteria and form into small tissue masses that can cause breathing difficulty and coughing.

If a person has been diagnosed with bronchitis, their airways may be inflamed due to a previous infection (acute) or may be caused by a chronic irritant and results in coughing up mucus.

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs triggered by a bacteria, virus, or fungi that causes the air sacs to fill up with liquid.

If your loved one has asthma, their airways may be inflamed or constricted due to environmental irritations and muscle spasms. They may be prescribed an inhaler during their rehabilitation to help manage symptoms.  

Emphysema occurs when the air sacs have been damaged due to smoking or hazardous environmental conditions.

What to Expect from Pulmonary Rehab at a Skilled Nursing Center

If you or your loved one have been admitted to a post-acute care center following a hospitalization, and live with a form of lung disease, it is important to consider what to expect from your individualized pulmonary care program.

During your recovery journey, it is critical to engage in physical activity to help increase your stamina and muscle function. Your therapy team may incorporate exercises to help improve your heart health, strengthen your lungs, and regain your independence. This may include walking, practicing proper breathing, and strength training exercises tailored to each person’s unique abilities.

To help manage your lung disease, your interdisciplinary healthcare team will provide you with valuable education and resources designed to teach residents proper breathing techniques, how to manage respiratory illness symptoms, and how to maintain their lung health upon their return home.

During your rehabilitation, your dietary team will also work with you to develop a modified nutrition plan that can help improve your lung function. This may involve a controlled carbohydrate diet to improve energy levels, or an increase in your intake of fruits and vegetables to help support healthy blood circulation. A healthy diet not only improves lung function, but it also supports a person’s immune system and overall healing process.

If your loved one lives with a lung condition, it may affect not only their physical health, but also their mental health. This is especially pertinent if they are also recovering from a hospitalization at a post-acute care center. They may be feeling isolated and discouraged about their health which can ultimately affect their recovery progress. Skilled nursing care offers the resources and support a resident needs to not only recover physically, but also improve their mental well-being. This can include psychological support services, support groups, and counselling all intended to address these challenges and improve a person’s overall quality of life.  

Breathing Exercises

Residents with respiratory illnesses often take shallow breaths causing chest muscle weakness, reduced oxygen circulation, shortness of breath and fatigue. Effective pulmonary programs can increase quality of life and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

During your rehabilitation journey, your therapy team may encourage breathing exercises to help strengthen your lung function and improve your oxygen circulation. This can include the following techniques:

Pursed Lip Breathing: helps increase the length of an exhalation

  1. Relax neck and shoulders.
  2. Breathe in for two counts through the nose.
  3. Breathe out for three to four counts through pursed lips.
  4. Take a deep breathe through the nose and exhale through pursed lips.

Deep Breathing: helps calm nerves and exercise the diaphragm

  1. Inhale for four seconds.
  2. Hold for four seconds.
  3. Exhale for four seconds.
  4. Hold for four seconds.

Diaphragmatic Breathing: helps train the abdominal muscles to aid during exhalation

  1. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below the ribcage.
  2. Breathe in slowly through your nose, so your stomach moves out against your hand (hand on your chest should remain as still as possible).
  3. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.

Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehab at a skilled nursing center can make a positive impact on a person’s quality of life and overall recovery journey. It can help improve respiratory function, regain independence in activities of daily living, and reduce the risk of rehospitalization. Your therapy team may integrate exercises that help strengthen your respiratory system and support your oxygen circulation such as establishing proper breathing techniques.

In fact, engaging in proper breathing techniques can have a variety of benefits to help enhance your lung health and your recovery, including:

  • Releases endorphins
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Improves posture
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves digestion
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Relaxes the mind and body

While these exercises may not reverse previous lung damage, they can help a person get the most out of their lung function. In addition to proper breathing, refraining from smoking, staying hydrated, and being physically active can contribute to healthy long-term lung function.   

While there are many physical benefits of pulmonary rehab, it is also important to recognize the positive impact it has on an individual’s quality of life. This level of care provides residents with the tools they need to help effectively manage their pulmonary illness and live an active, independent lifestyle.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Prestige

Post-acute care is vital in the optimal recovery of an individual who is recovering from a hospitalization and requires specialized pulmonary care. During your loved one’s stay at Prestige Care Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, you can ensure they are receiving the individualized care they need to recover and regain their independence. We offer structured care plans that are unique to each resident’s abilities and provide comprehensive resources intended to help a person manage their pulmonary health during their rehabilitation and upon their return home.

Our team of healthcare professionals are dedicated to helping each resident navigate their post-acute care journey. Whether your loved one is recovering from pneumonia or requires specialized care for a chronic pulmonary illness such as COPD, we provide a comprehensive care plan and ongoing evaluations to ensure an optimal recovery. Our Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at Prestige helps residents strengthen their lung function, manage their lung disease, and improve their overall quality of life.    

Learn more about our Pulmonary Rehab at www.prestigecare.com/skilled-nursing or contact a Prestige Skilled Nursing Center near you for more information.