Focus on Your Health: Pulmonary health is attainable: If you struggle with shortness of breath, pulmonary rehab can help

Anita Fritz

Anita Fritz


For the Recorder

Published: 03-22-2024 10:00 AM

National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week happens in March, so it’s a good time to think about your pulmonary health.

If you or someone you know has shortness of breath because of lung problems, pulmonary rehabilitation can help.

Whether you want to manage symptoms of a lung condition or get back on your feet after lung surgery, there are options to help you improve your quality of life.

According to Baystate Franklin’s Respiratory Department, “Referring and getting our COPD population enrolled into pulmonary rehab is a vital part of discharge for the appropriate patient. Pulmonary rehab is an excellent resource for increasing endurance, decreasing oxygen needs, and forming community with others who are dealing with same issues.”

Baystate takes a comprehensive approach to your pulmonary care and managing chronic lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis, and bronchiectasis.

Our team of pulmonary rehab specialists includes registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists, certified exercise physiologists, dietitians, and a medical director, who work closely with patients and and their doctors.

Baystate’s pulmonary rehab plans typically include education, exercise, nutrition counseling, stress management, and methods for clearing airways. You learn to manage your breathing problem, increase your energy, and decrease your breathlessness, as well as how to pace your breathing with your activities. You also learn how to take medicines and talk with your healthcare providers about symptoms and treatment.

If you’re wondering whether pulmonary rehab is right for you, talk with your doctor. Together, you can decide if you are a candidate based on your overall health, lung function, and willingness and ability to be at regular rehab appointments.

Each patient has a custom program for both pre- and post-surgery, if needed, as well as disease management. After pulmonary rehab, people are often amazed at how their breathing has improved and how much they can exercise. When you’re done with your rehabilitation program, your rehab team will create a long-term plan so that you keep exercising and maintaining your health.

Baystate Franklin Medical Center hosts a free COPD support group on the third Thursday of each month. The group meets from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room A off of the main entrance into the hospital. Refreshments are served, and a different topic is discussed each month. You’ll learn better ways to cope with conditions such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and asthma, while getting the support of others in similar situations. Led by a trained facilitator, this group gives you the tools you need to live the best quality of life you can. For more information, contact Bonnie Robert at or call her at 413-773-2429.

Anita Fritz is a lifelong resident of Franklin County. She was a reporter for the Greenfield Recorder for 20 years. She is currently the senior specialist for public affairs and community relations for Baystate Franklin Medical Center.