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Pulmonary Rehab Center Offers Exercise + Education
By Lois Thomson


COPD and chronic lung diseases can have a huge impact on a patient's overall quality of life, and can lead to further deconditioning, increased shortness of breath, decreased endurance and more frequent hospitalizations.  The Pulmonary Health Center at Ohio Valley Hospital provides a comprehensive program that offers one-on-one therapy with a respiratory therapist and an occupational therapist.  The Center provides individualized treatment to patients who have a range of respiratory conditions, which can include COPD, emphysema, chronic obstructive asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, pre/post lung transplantation, and other respiratory ailments. 

Danielle Krek, an OT, believes the Center stands out because of the services it offers.  "We're unique from other ones because I'm an occupational therapist and Steve Taylor is a respiratory therapist, and patients come in and see us individually.  The rehab is one-on-one, whereas some others are done in groups.  They come in for two hours, twice a week, and spend an hour with me and an hour with Steve.  We individualize their programs, geared toward what they want to work on."

Krek said the patients practice different breathing exercises and are also educated on how to manage their conditions.  "They're not just doing exercises the whole time they're here.  For OT, I work with them in their daily activities.  A lot of them are on oxygen, so we have them simulate situations in their homes so they know how much oxygen they need and when they should be resting."

For example, she said if somebody has trouble carrying laundry up the stairs, the Center has a laundry basket they can use to practice with.  "We'll actually take a basket out to the stairwell and show them how to do it right."  Similarly, if they get short of breath going to the grocery store, a grocery cart is available that they can use.  "We educate them on how to do things at home using energy conservation.

"Steve completes six-minute walk tests with patients and helps with their breathing exercises.  He monitors them one-on-one on the various exercise equipment, evaluates their oxygen needs, and their medication management."

The benefits are far-reaching.  As Krek explained, patients get better quality of life; they improve their breathing, their muscle strength, their endurance; and they can decrease their hospitalizations.  "Many people, when they first come in, are in and out of the hospital.  We teach them how to keep themselves stronger.  We have some who go from being in the hospital all the time to hardly being in at all."

She concluded, "Our service isn't a one-and-done.  The Center provides not only very thorough education and exercises, but also a valuable social aspect that benefits our patients.  Many develop friendships and offer support to others dealing with the same issues, and most importantly can help patients be more consistent with their attendance and exercising, so they maintain what they gain."

Danielle Krek, an occupational therapist in the Pulmonary Health Center at Ohio Valley Hospital, said when patients complete their one-on-one therapy sessions, they graduate and enter into what is called the Maintenance Program. "This program lets graduates continue to come in and exercise in a monitored environment where we still address any issues if they arise. Many of them have been coming here for years after they finish, to keep a better quality of life." Most insurances cover the program. Patients need a referral from their doctor, and the patient coordinator can assist with the process.

For more information, call 412-777-6470 or visit www.ohiovalleyhospital.org.

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