Division of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine
University of Massachusetts
Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-1975

Department of Medicine 

Pulmonary Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program FAQs

What is the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program?

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program represents a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort among the divisions of Behavioral Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine and the Center for Health and Fitness.

What is the Goal of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program?

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is designed to assist individuals who experience disabling shortness of breath and fatigue due to chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic asthma and interstitial fibrosis. To help these individuals live to their maximum potential, the program integrates exercise training with education and behavioral interventions.

Our innovative program has three components. First, a clinical evaluation performed by a pulmonary physician determines whether a patient is eligible to participate in the program. Second, education and support group meetings assist patients and families in coping with respiratory problems. Third, patients participate in an exercise training program following exercise testing evaluation.

Clinical Evaluation

Prior to participating in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, each individual undergoes an evaluation by a Pulmonary Rehabilitation team physician. Heart and lung function tests follow in the Pulmonary Function Laboratory. Results of the clinical evaluation determine whether an individual can participate safely in the exercise component of the program. Information obtained during these evaluations is combined with the patient's personal goals and is used to formulate an individualized exercise plan.


Education and Support Group Meetings

Throughout the course of the program, weekly group education and support meetings are held in the Center for Health and Fitness Conference Room. These meetings provide patients and close family members a place to share common concerns, ideas, and support while learning about chronic respiratory disease. Among the topics covered during these sessions are:

  • Normal anatomy and physiology of the lung
  • The nature of chronic disabling respiratory diseases
  • Exercise during periods of health and illness
  • Stress reduction and relaxation techniques
  • Oxygen and inhaled medications: When are they helpful, and how are they delivered?
  • Coping skills, managing thoughts and feelings, problem solving
  • Energy conservation theory and techniques
  • Shortness of breath, fatigue and cough: Why do they occur and how are they treated?
  • Environmental factors: Allergy and air pollution
  • Nutrition during periods of health and illness
  • Family and community resources for planning the future
  • Travel tips
Exercise Training Sessions

Group exercise training sessions, supervised by an exercise specialist, are held in the Center for Health and Fitness. Individuals are monitored during all sessions to maximize working to prescribed potential in a safe manner. Each session includes three phases:

  1. A Warm-Up Period, during which individuals perform range-of-motion exercises for all major muscle groups, and do gentle calisthenics.
  2. A Conditioning Period, during which individuals perform more vigorous callisthenic-type exercises to promote muscular strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles and other major muscle groups. Exercise during this period might also include walking on level ground or on a treadmill, or pedaling a stationary cycle. Oxygen is provided for those whose exercise prescriptions require its use. Exercise intensity is based upon individualized exercise plans.
  3. A Cool-Down Period, during which patients employ stretching and flexibility exercises followed by relaxation techniques taught during the education sessions. The cool-down phase helps the body safely and comfortably return to its resting state.

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Where are the Exercise Training Sessions and Education and Support Group Meetings Held?

These sessions are held in the Center for Health and Fitness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Fitness Center is a unique facility where the general public, world-class athletes as well as cardiac and pulmonary patients can exercise with "state-of-the-art" exercising and monitoring equipment under the watchful eye of exercise specialists and other team members.

Who is Involved in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program?

The program is directed by a pulmonary physician and coordinated by a pulmonary nurse. The team consists of pulmonary physicians, behavioral and exercise specialists, respiratory and physical therapists, pulmonary nurses, and nutritionists who have had extensive experience in rehabilitating individuals with chronic disabling respiratory diseases.

How do I Enroll in the Program?

For general information about the program, call the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Coordinator at (774) 442-6962. By calling the same number, you can also schedule an initial pulmonary rehabilitation evaluation appointment. Referral by your physician is encouraged but not required. Referring physicians will be fully informed of the results of your clinical evaluation and your progress at the conclusion of the program.

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When are the Exercise Training Sessions and Education and Support Group Meetings Held?

After the initial clinical evaluation, the exercise training sessions and education and support groups meet three times a week for eight consecutive weeks. Depending upon enrollment, there will be three to five eight-week sessions held annually.

Where do I Park When I go to the Lung and Allergy Center and the Center for Health and Fitness?

Parking for the Lung and Allergy Center is available for all patients in the lot just outside the patient entrance or in the parking garage. Parking for handicapped patients is also available; we provide assistance for individuals who need help in applying for handicap license plates. Parking for the Center for Health and Fitness is available in the parking garage at reduced cost.

How do I get to the Lung and Allergy Center and the Center for Health and Fitness?

To get to the Lung and Allergy Center, check in at the Patient Information desk after entering the Hospital through the Patient Entrance. You will be directed to the Lung and Allergy Center. To get to the Center for Health and Fitness, enter through the Medical School Entrance and ask the receptionist at the Information Desk to direct you to the Center for Health and Fitness, Level A of the Medical School.

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How much does the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program Cost?

The amount you pay depends on the type of insurance coverage you have. If you have already met your deductible, most or all of the costs of the program are covered by the majority of insurance companies. Before enrolling in the program, you will have the opportunity to speak to a financial representative for the Center for Health and Fitness in order to determine how much the program will cost you.

How can I Support Pulmonary Medicine and the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the UMASS Medical Center?

You can help us by making suggestions that you believe may improve the services we provide, by referring others to us, and by making donations to our division. The Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, & Critical Care Medicine employs dedicated physician scientists who can accomplish their research goals only if they are adequately funded. Since the need for research in pulmonary diseases continues to increase at a time when federal grants have been severely reduced, your help in this regard would be much appreciated.

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