March 14-21 marked this year’s occurrence of Pulmonary Rehab Week. In recognition of this event, Fort HealthCare’s Pulmonary Rehab department has chosen to announce the program’s recent fulfillment of The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (G.O.L.D.) program guidelines for the treatment of this medical condition. G.O.L.D.’s program is determined and its guidelines for COPD care are shaped by committees made up of leading experts from around the world. G.O.L.D. was launched in 1997 in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA, and the World Health Organization.
G.O.L.D. works with health care professionals and public health officials to raise awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and to improve prevention and treatment of this lung disease for patients around the world. Program requirements call for all patients, regardless of their stage of disease, to benefit from exercise training programs and show improvements in exercise tolerance and reduction in symptoms of shortness of breath (dyspnea) and fatigue. Rehabilitation programs should include, at a minimum, exercise training, nutrition counseling and education.
The program at Fort HealthCare includes all of these aspects. In addition, each patient benefits from specialized breathing technique training, learns proper use of inhalers, and is taught techniques to cope with stress and depression via relaxation techniques. The goals of pulmonary rehabilitation are to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and increase participation in everyday activities; and that is consistently the outcome seen at Fort Memorial Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, located on the first floor of the hospital in Fort Atkinson. Patients with COPD, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary fibrosis are encouraged to participate. The program is covered by Medicare and most private insurances.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a treatment program for people with lung disease. Regular exercise is the central focus of the program with special attention given to endurance exercises for leg muscles. Resistance training for muscles of the upper body is also helpful, as both types of exercise help improve efficiency of daily activities. The same muscle groups that are strengthened via exercise also help with one’s ability to breathe. Exercise and education is tailored for each individual person according to their needs.
Education is an important part of any pulmonary rehabilitation program. Understanding lung disease, how it is treated and how self management strategies can help is critical for long term health. Pulmonary rehabilitation does not directly improve how the lungs work, but it does
strengthen other muscles in the body and makes them more efficient as they use oxygen.
Pat Parks, respiratory therapy technician for Fort HealthCare states, “For someone who has lung disease and becomes short of breath with minimal exertion, the thought of exercise can be frightening. Often, they experience anxiety or fear about not being able to breathe during exercise. In Pulmonary Rehab, we educate people about proper breathing techniques and strengthening muscles to compensate for lungs that are not working like they should.”
Lisa Michaels-Bilgrien, Fort HealthCare’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program coordinator, describes how COPD patients can become more ill with lack of exercise. “When muscles are used during exercise, they require more oxygen to perform. Patients with a chronic lung condition reduce their level of physical activity so that they don’t experience shortness of breath. Their muscles lose strength over time and that can lead to a whole host of health
problems later on. A vicious cycle exists, as shortness of breath is now not only caused by lung disease, but also by physical de-conditioning.”
Fort HealthCare’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program includes:
- Endurance exercise to increase stamina and decrease shortness of breath
- Breathing techniques and managing breathlessness
- Nutrition and healthy eating, designed specifically for patients with lung conditions
- Information about diseases and what the lungs do
- Coping with chronic lung disease and management of depression, anxiety and panic
- attacks, which often accompany episodes of shortness of breath
- Helping patients become active participants in their healthcare
- Helping patients and their families gain a better understanding of the physical and
- psychological changes that occur with chronic illness
The Fort HealthCare pulmonary rehabilitation team is lead by Donald Williams, MD and includes respiratory therapists, an exercise physiologist, a registered nurse, a registered dietitian and an occupational therapist, who work with patients’ personal physicians. To contact a member of the pulmonary rehabilitation team, please call (920) 568-5349 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. To learn more about the program, please visit www.FortHealthCare.com or talk with your doctor.