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The respiratory rehabilitation path at the “Sandro Pertini” MiniHospital

Respiratory rehabilitation is a therapeutic pathway that, through a multidisciplinary approach, aims to assist patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases. It’s a non-pharmacological, personalized treatment encompassing various interventions (physical, pharmacological, psychological, educational, and nutritional) with the goal of optimizing life possibilities and managing chronic respiratory diseases (primarily COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – but also interstitial diseases and all conditions leading to respiratory failure), helping patients maintain their abilities and reducing the impact that respiratory illness has on their quality of life.

The recent Coronavirus epidemic has increased the number of patients requiring pulmonary rehabilitation. In individuals with Covid-19 who have been hospitalized, respiratory muscle, postural, and motor alterations are often observed due to prolonged hospital stays (25-30 days). Direct consequences of these alterations include difficulties in postural transfers, the onset of dizziness and instability, exertional dyspnea, fatigue, weakness, musculoskeletal pain, and difficulties in activities of daily living.

Pulmonary rehabilitation allows patients to regain the abilities they had before the onset of the disease, helping them return to a state of normalcy.

In addition to Covid-19 patients, pulmonary rehabilitation can also be useful for individuals (especially the elderly) who, due to quarantine, have been forced to minimize mobility, leading to marked fatigue, osteoarticular pain and stiffness, muscle weakness, difficulty in physical exercise due to easy fatigability, and, more generally, a syndrome of physical deconditioning.

Respiratory Rehabilitation: An Individualized Pathway

Respiratory rehabilitation is an individualized and personalized journey because each patient has their specific needs. Therefore, after an initial assessment, different forms and methods of physical exercise are prescribed to improve individual performance and alleviate the consequences of emotional symptoms related to the pathological condition.

Recent studies in the field of respiratory rehabilitation confirm that the earlier the intervention in the course of the disease, the greater the benefits that can be obtained. However, every patient at any stage of the disease can experience the benefits of this intervention. Respiratory rehabilitation can also be practiced following disease exacerbations or during hospitalizations.

A Multidisciplinary Team for Respiratory Rehabilitation

At the MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” the respiratory rehabilitation pathway is provided by a team of professionals composed of individuals with diverse profiles:

  • Pierluigi Paggiaro, University of Pisa professor specialized in Respiratory System Diseases
  • Federico Dente, Pulmonology Specialist (AOUP)
  • Antonella Di Franco, Pulmonology Specialist (ASL Nord Ovest)
  • Romina Vargiu, Rehabilitation Therapist specialized in cardio-respiratory field
  • Valentina Bessi, Psychologist, experienced in chronic diseases, including respiratory ones

The team operates following a multidisciplinary approach, integrating medical and nursing care, pharmacological therapy, rehabilitation therapy, psycho-nutritional support, behavioral norms, and educational programs with the aim of helping patients control symptoms and improve their activities, day by day.

For rehabilitation activities, patients at the MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” have access to physiotherapy clinics equipped with state-of-the-art tools, a gym equipped with specific equipment, and a pool suitable for individuals who need to perform exercises with partial or complete reduction of body weight.

The respiratory rehabilitation pathway

During the initial pneumological visit, the team of professionals evaluates the patient’s situation, considering their conditions and specific needs, to subsequently formulate a personalized program with specific objectives.

The initial assessment includes various functional, clinical, and psychological measurements and allows establishing the baseline level of impairment to assess the benefits of treatment. At this stage, the intervention of other specialists (cardiologist, rheumatologist, nutritionist) may be requested.

The treatment plan includes:

  • General physical training (activities such as walking or therapeutic cycling)
  • Training of specific muscle groups
  • Respiratory physiotherapy
  • Health education
  • Psychological assessment and support
  • Optimization of pharmacological therapy

At the end of the pulmonary rehabilitation program (after a period that can last between 8 and 12 weeks), the initial evaluations are repeated, and the treatment results are compiled. At that point, the team of professionals at the MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” decides whether to continue with a home-based treatment and plan a further long-term follow-up visit or to repeat the pathway at the facility.

For more information or to schedule a visit to start a pulmonary rehabilitation program, you can email, call 0587609134, or fill out the form on this page.

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