Many chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients could see a return to normalcy through pulmonary rehabilitation, according to article in Medical Xpress “COPD patient returns to active lifestyle thanks to pulmonary rehabilitation.”
The article, which explores the success of the UK Healthcare’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in reducing breathlessness for patients, takes a look how this program positively affected life-long scuba diver and recently diagnosed COPD patient, Mike Graham.
After only nine weeks in the program, Graham shares that his progress has allowed him to return to many of his beloved activities, including walking out to his pasture, an activity which was previously “out of the question.”
Affecting over 24 million Americans, COPD is the number 5 killer in the United States. Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program director Dr. John McCormick describes COPD patients in their program as already having “seriously compromised lung function” with many individuals “reliant on supplemental oxygen.” However, Dr. McCormick claims that “pulmonary rehab can be the lifeline that returns sufferers to a fuller life.”
The magic of the program relies on the interdisciplinary team of pulmonologists, nurses, exercise physiologists, dietitians and lifestyle therapists, who together “help patients restore strength and endurance, reduce disease symptoms, and self-manage common complications.” These life-saving measures also decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety for those patients who have already completed the program.
Aside from the physical benefits of the program, there are also financial benefits. Due to the decrease in post-rehab COPD symptoms, program participants require less care in the future and most pulmonary rehabilitation programs are covered by insurance.
Like Dr. McCormick, Graham insists the success of the program relies on the staff that has educated him on his condition, motivated him to quit smoking, and constantly encouraged him during his training. Dr. McCormick also attributes program success to the patient care that goes beyond the walls of the facility, taking the patients on field trips. Graham reflects on one trip in particular to a local grocery store for a hands-on tutorial on reading nutrition labels and making healthy food choices.
Graham, who has now returned to scuba-diving, credits the program and its positive impact for changing his life. He now volunteers with the National COPD Foundation for a program that pairs newly-diagnosed sufferers with mentors like himself who are able to offer advice and encouragement.