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Breathing Easier with Pulmonary Rehabilitation

January 15, 2018

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Newton Medical Center recently received certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. One of the many benefits of national certification is the ability to provide best treatment practices to our patients and compare our program against national standards and patient outcomes,” says Loretta Ritter, RN, manager of rehabilitation services for Newton Medical Center.

The rehab staff is made up of exercise physiologists, registered nurses and respiratory therapists. Each has an understanding of respiratory tolerance, the pulmonary patient’s needs, and exercise equipment including treadmills, bikes, reclining elliptical trainers, rowers and more.

“We start out slow and then allow patients to progress as they tolerate low to moderate levels of exertion that they can repeat multiple times per week to build up their muscles,” says Ritter. For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, emphysema or a lung transplant, “we can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can teach the patient to manage the disease process; that’s what pulmonary rehabilitation is all about.”

“Exercise improves muscle tolerance and enables more efficient use of oxygen so patients can breathe easier,” adds Patti Applegate, RN. In pulmonary rehab, patients learn exercises that they practice at home. Each participant “defines what their personal goal is,” she explains. “It could be remaining in their home independently, golfing, or dancing with a granddaughter at her wedding. We then translate that goal into their planned exercise program.”

Nationwide, studies show that only 30 percent of people who qualify for pulmonary and cardiac rehab may attend these programs, Ritter says. “People think they’re not going to get any better, or they think they’re going to get better on their own; but the safest way to start your cardiopulmonary rehabilitation is in a program led by experts.”

For more information, please call 973-940-8123.