Pulmonary rehabilitation at Via Christi Health in Wichita, KS

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A medical masterpiece
Pulmonary rehab helps patient get the most out of her lungs and life

By the time Jan Gold was diagnosed with emphysema 20 years ago, some of life’s simplest tasks had become a chore.

Once perpetually on the go, climbing the stairs and cleaning the house left her breathless as her lungs were no longer able to fully expand and contract, trapping old, stale air inside.

“I used to go on walks, to the health club and took great pleasure in gardening,” says Jan. “But I started getting tired, short of breath and would start coughing, so I began to scale back.”

She went from taking shorter walks to curtailing many of her activities altogether.

Her life reversed course in January 2012 after her physician referred her to the Via Christi Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.

“I had a severe flu with bronchial symptoms that weren’t clearing up, and my physician thought the program could help me better manage my disease,” says Jan.
It did that and more, she says.

“When I finally started the program in May, I couldn’t walk for five minutes on the treadmill and could only manage 10 minutes on a step bike,” says Jan. Within two months, she was up to doing 14 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the bike.

Painting is one activity Jan can now enjoy more fully after her rehabilitation.“Pulmonary rehabilitation along with smoking cessation are two of the most important modes of treatment for patients with COPD and emphysema,” says Jennifer Jackson, MD, who serves as the program's medical director.

“For patients like Jan, our program can help them increase their levels of exercise, control their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life,” says Dr. Jackson.  
Jan, whose workout routine today includes a 30-minute walk, followed by resistance training using the program’s weight machines, is living proof.

The program has also helped her learn ways to better manage her condition, such as using oxygen when doing strenuous activities like vacuuming her home.

“Plus, it’s given me more confidence because I know my limits now.”

Although she’s completed the Via Christi Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, she continues to participate in the maintenance program, which she says has helped her continually improve her activity level.

“It’s very affirming to see others like me go through the program and improve,” says Jan.

When I began the program, I visited with a woman who credited Via Christi with saving her life. At the time, I thought it was perhaps an exaggeration. But I now think they may have saved my life, too.”

Ask your doctor if Via Christi Pulmonary Rehabilitation is right for you. 

Improve your lung function

Breathing retraining
Breathlessness is a major problem of lung disease. Simple breathing techniques can help you maintain better control of your breathing and experience less shortness of breath.

Gentle and progressive exercise will increase your strength and endurance, which means you can do more of what you want to do and expend less effort doing it.
Stress and emotions
Being short of breath can make you feel anxious, which could lead to panic attacks in stressful situations.

Good nutrition is important in coping with lung disease. What you eat may affect how you breathe, how well you feel, how well you are able to fight infections and your ability to maintain adequate body weight.

Regular use of medication can decrease common symptoms of lung disease and improve your well-being. In the Via Christi Pulmonary Rehab program, you’ll learn the purpose of your respiratory medications, and how to get the most benefit from them.
Ask your doctor if Via Christi Pulmonary Rehabilitation is right for you.


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