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How pulmonary rehabilitation can help you

March 12, 2015

This week, March 8–14, is National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week. Baystate Medical Center is celebrating its pulmonary rehab staff and the benefits pulmonary rehabilitation can provide for those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The theme of this year’s special recognition week – sponsored by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) – is “The Results Will Blow You Away.” It honors those who struggle to overcome shortness of breath and the pulmonary professionals who work every day to alleviate that struggle and improve patients’ everyday life.

About Baystate's program

According to Donna Hawke, RRT, in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department at Baystate, participating in a pulmonary rehab program can make a tremendous difference in a person’s breathing and quality of life.

She says among the top benefits are:

  • Improving endurance and strength
  • Learning new breathing strategies that will help one go up and down stairs easier
  • Learning the proper use of medications.

Baystate Medical Center’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs provide a comprehensive approach to managing chronic pulmonary diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and bronchiectasis. The goal is to help patients become more independent and offer a better understanding of their disease and control of their symptoms.


The Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at Baystate Medical Center was the first program in Massachusetts to be certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) in 2002 and is one of only eight certified pulmonary rehab programs in Massachusetts. Baystate’s program is the only program in western Massachusetts to provide comprehensive out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation Phase 2 and Phase 3 programs for the community.

Program participants must have a prescription from a physician and must take a pulmonary function test if one hasn’t been administered in the past year.

“The most important requirement is that they must give the program their full efforts and attend regularly,” said Hawk about the commitment needed to be successful.