Pulmonary rehabilitation is a game-changer in the fight against COPD for many sufferers. However, only a small fraction of people who are eligible for the program actually enroll in it, and disturbingly, that number goes further down for the African American population.
What is pulmonary rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehab is a program where people who have breathing and lung problems such as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, learn skills and behaviors for getting their complications under control and living a normal life.
A typical program runs about 12 weeks and involves education about exercise, nutrition and managing disease. Program participants learn and practice how to exercise properly, without having shortness of breath, so they can stay and shape and have more energy. They also receive the support of a community, where they can share their journey with people who are in the same boat.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation has been to shown to help people better manage their condition and possibly reduce the amount of hospital visits.
Low participation rates
While there are many pulmonary rehab programs scattered throughout the country, there are more in more populous areas, giving people in those areas more opportunities to join and gain from the program. Studies show that in denser areas, there is a higher proportion of people in pulmonary rehab programs.
Even in the best case scenario, a tiny percentage of eligible patients participate in a program. Only 1.9% of people who were admitted to a hospital for issues pertaining to COPD were shown to have attended a program within 6 months of their release. There are a wide variety or reasons that people who should don’t take the program, from transportation issues to denial.
Pulmonary rehab for African Americans
Data shows that for those who do opt to take the program, white people take the program at a much higher rate in areas where there are more programs available, but this is not the case for African Americans, whose participation percentage wise is the same as in areas where there are few programs available. The reasons for this discrepancy are not known, but some point to behavior patterns and recommendations from doctors.
Recommendations to cure the problem
Researchers presented an abstract of a study they did at a conference of the AMerican Thoracic Society in May. The study indeed confirmed these results. The researchers did not find reasons for the racial disparity, but noted the overall conclusions mentioned above. Experts urge continued research into the subject in an effort to encourage higher African American participation in potentially life-saving pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
At the Alameda Center for Rehabilitation, we offer pulmonary rehabilitation programs with education and skill-building for COPD and other patients with breathing difficulties. Speak to our staff today to find out how these life-saving techniques can improve the quality of life of someone you know who is suffering from a breathing-related disease.