The Pulmonary Rehab department at Glacial Ridge Health System combines education and exercise activities for their patients with lung disorders, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath during physical activities like walking, wheezing, chest tightness, a chronic cough, or frequent respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, plus other symptoms.
Pictured with Respiratory Therapist John A. Dvorak are Shirley Schramm and Joseph Carriveau, both recent graduates of the Pulmonary Rehab Program at Glacial Ridge Hospital.
“Pulmonary rehab is designed for patients who are weakened by chronic or acute lung disease,” said John Allan Dvorak, certified respiratory therapist at Glacial Ridge. “When it comes to lung disease, people naturally get used to their symptoms and downplay how serious their disease truly is—even saying they feel fine when it is clear their breathing is compromised. The body learns to compensate, but these methods of compensation wear on the organs over time.”
When patients like Shirley and Joseph participate in pulmonary rehab, they experience an increased level of exercise for those breathing difficulties. They learn about lung disease, how to manage it, things to avoid, and best practices for lung health. Patients who receive pulmonary rehab often notice an improvement in their overall health and quality of life.
“Our patients learn how to safely and effectively exercise while having lung problems without experiencing shortness of breath or feeling fatigued,” said Dvorak. “With COPD being the most common lung disease, and the fourth leading cause of death in the world, it’s important that patients don’t get used to their disease. By seeing a doctor when you are having symptoms, you can prevent long-term organ damage and improve your breathing for a better and healthier you.”