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In This Issue:
BWH’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
With temperatures rising throughout August, people everywhere have been searching for a breath of fresh air. But for millions of Americans, breathing easy is a daily battle, only exacerbated by the hot and humid weather. Here at BWH, respite can be found on Tower 4A, the site of the hospital’s outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program (PRP). Founded six years ago, the PRP helps individuals with respiratory disease return to a more active lifestyle. And this summer, patients are learning not only to breathe easy, but keep their cool.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema are commonly known. However, their impact on the health of our country is perhaps not as obvious — COPD is the nation’s fourth leading cause of death
Margaret and Albert St. Cyr, ages 75 and 77, are well aware of the threat of COPD. They are fighting to maintain their pulmonary health by working diligently with the PRP group at BWH. Margaret, who has asthma, was referred to BWH’s PRP by her physician almost five years ago. Two years later her husband enrolled in pulmonary rehabilitation to help overcome the shortness of breath and other symptoms triggered by his emphysema. BWH’s PRP is part of a growing trend of programs around the country that blend patient education, energy conservation techniques and aerobic conditioning to help reduce hospitalizations and improve the well-being of pulmonary patients.
“We have both noticed a marked difference in our respiratory and overall health,” said Margaret, who worked in Labor and Delivery at BWH for 31 years. “The exercise component has helped us to breathe better and a variety of specialists have worked with us to develop a nutritional plan and make important lifestyle changes,” she added.
Having completed their six-week rotation through the formal exercise and educational component, the St. Cyrs return to the hospital monthly to participate in the PRP support group. The support group allows patients to maintain friendships and keep updated on current health trends through a guest lecture series. “Improving the quality of life for patients like the St. Cyrs is an ongoing process,” said Priscilla Perruzzi, clinical supervisor, who noted BWH’s program takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, family counseling and patient education.
Sarah Hooper, exercise physiologist, and Susan Peterson, respiratory therapist, design aerobic workouts for patients to help them achieve and maintain a maximum level of independent functioning. “We stress that everyone works at their own level, and defining success is unique to each of our patients,” said Hooper. “Our patients range in age from 25 to 86. While one patient’s goal may be to complete a local walkathon, another’s is to walk from the bed to the kitchen on her own.”
The program’s success can be anecdotally measured by the St. Cyrs. Thanks to years of work with the PRP, the couple keeps up with one of their favorite activities – swing dancing. With improved respiratory health, not even the 90-degree weather could stop them from dazzling the audience at a recent summer social. On the dance floor, the couple can proudly show off not only their latest swing moves, but their new breathing techniques as well.
For more information about the outpatient PRP, call 617-732-4757.