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Ways to Conquer COPD

February 28, 2019

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes breathing difficulty and leads to other systemic problems. COPD is the tenth most prevalent disease worldwide.  COPD causes the airways in your lungs to lose their normal shape and elasticity and can become inflamed which cause the airways to become less efficient at moving air in and out of your lungs. Risk factors include smoking; inhaling toxic substances; indoor & outdoor pollutants; genetic/environment interactions; problems during lung development/early childhood. 

The most common types of COPD are:

Chronic bronchitis—a chronic inflammation of the medium-size airways, or "bronchi" in the lungs, causing a persistent, productive cough 

Emphysema—a condition in which small air sacs in the lungs called "alveoli" are damaged. The body has difficulty getting all of the oxygen it needs, resulting in shortness of breath and a chronic cough.

Improve Your Ability to Be Physically Active 

Often, people with COPD have a fear of overexertion with exercise.  Working with a physical therapist who will design an individualized exercise program focused on training the muscles you use to breathe when walking can increase your aerobic capacity and reduce your shortness of breath and help to reduce your fear.  Your physical therapist may have you use equipment such as a bike, treadmill, or stair stepper to improve cardiovascular endurance.

Research has shown that strength training in people with moderate to severe COPD increases muscle mass and overall strength. Your physical therapist will provide strengthening exercises for your arms and legs using resistance bands, weights, and weighted medicine balls.


Shortness of Breath

People with COPD often have shortness of breath and reduced strength in their "inspiratory muscles" (the muscles used to breathe in).  Working with a physical therapist can help you to train your inspiratory muscles, which has been shown to reduce shortness of breath and increase exercise capacity. You will be introduced to the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale or RPE, a scale used to measure the intensity of exercise, using numbers and phrases to help you rate how difficult or easy you find an activity.  Your physical therapist will instruct you in special breathing techniques which can help make each breath more efficient,  reducing your shortness of breath during your normal physical activities like walking to complete errands or climbing your stairs at home. 


COPD can lead to balance problems and an increased risk of falls. People who require supplemental oxygen can be at a greater risk for a fall. Your physical therapist will assess your fall risk and, if indicated, will teach you exercises aimed at improving your balance to help you feel steadier on your feet.

How to schedule an appointment

In California, you have the ability to access physical therapy services directly without a physician referral.  Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to address your COPD needs. 

Our clinic is located at 8200 Stockdale Highway, Ste. B1 and we can be reached at (661) 827-8959 or you can send us a message by visiting our website:  http://centralvalleypt.com/contact.php 

We look forward to working with you!

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