Roger Rand was never one to exercise and for a simple reason.
"I didn't like it," he said.
But as his COPD progressed, Rand, 65, was finding it harder just to get around.
"A walk on level ground scored about a three or four on the difficulty scale, but throw in some stairs or a mild incline, and it was much more difficult," he said. "I came to the realization that if I didn't do something about it, this would be my life. My doctor referred me to the pulmonary rehab program at Lake Regional Health System."
Pulmonary rehabilitation helps people with chronic breathing problems breathe better, so activity is easier and their quality of life is better. During the week of March 10–16, Lake Regional Health System's Cardiopulmonary Rehab department joins health care organizations nationwide in observing National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week. Pulmonary rehabilitation is offered at Lake Regional Hospital and Lake Regional clinics in Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark and Laurie.
What is pulmonary rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs provide patients with individualized plans that help them overcome breathing challenges. Most pulmonary rehab patients suffer from a pulmonary disease, such as COPD. Pulmonary rehab also benefits people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease.
Physicians structure and supervise the plan, which might include exercise conditioning, breathing retraining, nutritional counseling and goal setting.
Rand's physician ordered a plan for pulmonary rehab three days a week.
"I was not really excited about the idea of doing exercise three days a week, but I was not willing to accept the alternative, so I joined the rehab program," Rand said. "We do a variety of exercises that are primarily focused on developing our core muscles, which are critical to breathing but also help with balance and stability. I have learned a lot about the benefit of the different exercises we do. The staff is always friendly, helpful, caring and dedicated but will also provide the extra 'push' we all need occasionally."
What are the outcomes?
Aside from better breathing, pulmonary rehab can reduce respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue. Increased muscle strength, endurance and the ability to perform tasks that once seemed daunting are additional benefits.
Rand has been in pulmonary rehabilitation for seven months now and said it has helped him a great deal.
"I still have COPD and always will," he said, "but surprisingly, I have come to enjoy the three-days-a-week classes, where I am continually learning the things I can do to improve my situation. I can walk through a store, or get out and do things that I was hesitant to do before because of my breathing. I now walk two miles a day, five days a week and also do the hour-long exercise program three days a week. I finally feel that I am truly doing something for myself."
Pulmonary Rehab at Lake Regional
Lake Regional offers Phase II Pulmonary Rehab, an individualized exercise program for patients who have lung disease. Exercise sessions are 60 minutes to 90 minutes, two or three days a week depending on the clinic location. Clinic staff monitor each patient’s blood pressure, oxygen, weight and heart function during each session.
A referral from a primary care physician or pulmonologist is required to begin pulmonary rehabilitation. Each patient works with a team of professionals, including registered nurses, a registered dietitian and an exercise physiologist, and every month, the referring physician reviews the patient's individualized plan. Weekly pulmonary education classes focus on breathing techniques, energy conservation, medications and oxygen use.
Lake Regional also offers the Better Breathers support group for individuals with lung disease. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. in the hospital’s Cardiac Rehab center.
For more information about Lake Regional pulmonology services, visit lakeregional.com/lungcare.