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Ways to Conquer COPD

February 15, 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 and is caused primarily due to smoking but is also associated with occupational exposure, air pollution and family history. COPD presents as difficulty breathing during exercise, shortness of breath and reduction in lung function.

Improve Your Ability to Be Physically Active 

Due to having shortness of breath, many with COPD might be reluctant to exercise for fear of causing further damage. Performing exercise with a Physical Therapist is a key component of managing COPD along with medication from a medical doctor and stopping smoking. There is a high level of evidence for the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation for people with COPD. Performing strength and endurance exercises have also been supported in the literature for managing COPD. 

Shortness of Breath

Physical Therapy can improve your breathing during activity when monitored using a Rating of Perceived Exertion scale or RPE scale. Exercise prescription is based on 5 principles: type, duration, frequency, intensity, and volume.  A Physical Therapist will use an RPE scale during exercise to determine how intense the exercise is to ensure that progress is made without overexertion. A common baseline activity, such as climbing the stairs, will help determine your starting RPE level. This will help to allow progress in physical therapy without feeling overworked or too exhausted. 


Lightheadedness and poor balance can be a side effect of  COPD, Physical therapy can improve endurance , strength and balance through a specific individualized treatment program. Strengthening muscles has been shown to reduce risk for falls and improve overall function with those suffering from COPD. 



How to schedule an appointment

North Carolina is referred to as a direct access state for Physical Therapy. You do not need a physician's referral to see a physical therapist and in most cases your physical therapy treatment will be covered by insurance. Specialized Physical Therapy is an employee-owned private practice with three convenient locations in the Asheville area. You can reach us at:

Candler Clinic:
1572 Sand Hill Road, Suite 101 

Candler, NC 28715

North Asheville Clinic:
858 Merrimon Ave 

Asheville, NC 28804

South Asheville Clinic:
20 Gala Drive, Suite G-104 

Asheville, NC 28803

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