Breathing Easier

Anyone living with chronic lung disease or is a caregiver for someone who has this disease knows how difficult some days can be. Fortunately, there are ways to optimize daily care and ease the symptoms associated with lung conditions.

The Stoughton Health Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program provides a safe and comfortable environment for those who suffer from chronic lung diseases or other conditions affecting their breathing. The program helps individuals learn how to breathe easier, improve energy levels, decrease hospitalizations and enjoy a better quality of life overall.

“At our pulmonary rehab program, we provide both exercise and education to help them work towards those goals,” states Melanie Pavolonis, clinical exercise physiologist at Stoughton Health.

Who is the Best Fit for the Rehab Program?

The rehab program encompasses people with a wide variety of lung conditions. Most common are chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as other breathing conditions like pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis and now those with long COVID symptoms.

Some individuals are given supplemental oxygen in conjunction with various breathing techniques to increase airflow and reduce shortness of breath. The rehab program also involves education surrounding nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, medication, smoking cessation and energy conservation.

“A lot of people with pulmonary disease have fatigue and have greater difficulty doing tasks like cleaning. So, we help them learn to conserve their energy,” adds Pavolonis. “Stress management is key. When they’re feeling stressed, that’s going to elevate blood pressure and heart rate and increase their rate of breathing as well.”

Getting Started

Most insurance companies cover pulmonary rehab for those with respiratory diseases. It typically requires a doctor’s referral to get started.

“We have the patient come in for an initial appointment, so we can review their medical history and have them perform a walk test so we can watch their blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels. That helps us to develop a plan for them,” notes Pavolonis. “Everybody is going to be different as far as their level and capabilities. So, we want to make sure we’re paying attention to each individual and basing their program on their abilities and needs.”

Relief Is Within Reach

For some patients, a simple task like retrieving the mail is difficult. So, attending pulmonary rehab each week might seem like a frightening endeavor. Pavolonis assures the program is designed to meet each individual’s personalized needs.

“The education and exercise — at the levels they can achieve and are capable of doing — will help them in their daily tasks. We help those things become less challenging. We help them manage and control their breathing, which will allow them to have a better quality of life. What most people want is just to be able to do activities without having to worry about if they’re going to be able to get through that without getting really short of breath.”

To learn more, please call Stoughton Health’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at 608- 873-2314.

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