Pulmonary patients gain strength, stability and independence at Atlantic Respiratory Institute
“People often give up when they find out they have lung disease. They think it’s the end of their life,” says Monica Gilles, RRT, MAS, NCTTP, pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator for Overlook Medical Center. “They don’t realize that we can help them. I tell patients, ‘You may not be able to do things the same way, but you can still do things.’ ”
Pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to help patients with lung disorders – COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma, sarcoidosis and lung cancer among them – reduce symptoms, decrease disability and improve quality of life. Atlantic Respiratory Institute’s team of pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, nurses, dietitians and social workers partner with patients to develop plans customized to each patient’s needs and abilities.
Every eight weeks, Gilles ushers in a new group of pulmonary patients for rehabilitation at Overlook. She guides them through exercises utilizing equipment such as treadmills, stepping machines, stationary bicycles and free weights, and teaches patients energy-conserving techniques to make breathing – and living – easier. The duration and intensity of each session is increased over the course of eight weeks, until more activity can be achieved with less shortness of breath and fewer pauses. For patients who require more than eight weeks of rehabilitation, additional services are available.
“We tailor the program to each patient,” says Gilles. “There is no blame here. We get patients ready and comfortable enough to work out on their own, but we are always here if they need more help.”