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Thursday, July 08, 2010 - Patients are “Breathing Easy” Thanks to Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Broward General Medical Center

Ft. Lauderdale - Imagine getting winded from walking through your house, or having to stop and take a break to catch your breath just from getting dressed in the morning. Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) often experience limitations on what they can do because they just are not able to breathe.

COPD leaves patients short of breath and this causes patients to feel like they are not able to exercise. The lack of activity results in the weakening of muscles, heart, and lungs, resulting in even greater shortness of breath. This is turn leads to more weakness, and less ability to exercise. This harmful cycle can result in depression, isolation, less independence, and a weakened immune system, making it difficult to prevent and fight infections.

Today, thanks to pulmonary rehabilitation, many patients are able improve their ability to perform day to day activities and enjoy a better quality of life. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of exercise, disease management and counseling which are coordinated to benefit the individual patient.

The pulmonary rehabilitation unit at Broward General Medical Center is seeing great success with their patients where plans are developed for each patient and tailored to meet their specific needs. Patients work at their own pace to learn different techniques for living with COPD. It’s a gradual lifestyle modification that will help them feel good about themselves.

“At first, some patients can be skeptical about the progress they can make with rehab,” said Valerie Horn, Registered Respiratory Therapist. “I always tell them that we can’t heal them, but we can help them learn ways to use their lungs better through exercise, education and breathing techniques.”

Pulmonary rehabilitation patients are usually able to decrease their shortness of breath and increase their ability to exercise. For COPD patients, weight control and exercise are important since being overweight makes breathing more difficult for already compromised lungs by making the chest wall harder to move.

“The educational component allows patients to have a better sense of control over their disease and assists them with managing the emotions that arise,” said Dr. Glenn Singer. “It includes breathing training, nutrition education, medication and stress management, information on the disease process, and tips on how to conserve energy.”

The pulmonary rehabilitation unit at Broward General Medical Center is open five days a week and staffed by a pulmonologist, registered respiratory therapists, registered nurses, a registered dietitian and exercise physiologists. Classes consist of 2-3 sessions per week for a total of 10 sessions. Each class is 90 minutes long. Patients must be referred by their physician and most insurance companies reimburse for the program, recognizing it as a physician prescribed service.

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world-class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information visit www.BrowardHealth.org.