On Mary Scarbroughs first day of Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR), she didnt know what she was getting into. She was out of shape and short of breath to the point that she could not get from her car to the building (a distance of about 275 feet) on her own. She thought, How in the world am I going to exercise, and how can I possibly improve?
Respiratory therapist Kitty Collins runs the PR programs at Seton Healthcare Family of Hospitals in Texas, where Scarbrough attends. When Mary first came to rehab, our staff had to meet her at her car and wheel her through the door. It was obvious this lady needed help, and I knew that if she made the effort and attended sessions routinely, she could make big improvements, Collins says.
At first skeptical, Scarbrough soon found that PR was working for her.
PR was working for her. She started not at the pace and intensity of others in her class, but with an exercise plan designed just for her. She began walking at 0.7 MPH for 3 minutes and resting for 3 minutes. She also did seated exercises, gradually working up to do a little more with each session.
She started not at the pace and intensity of others in her class, but with an exercise plan designed just for her. She began walking at 0.7 MPH for 3 minutes and resting for 3 minutes. She also did seated exercises, gradually working up to do a little more with each session.
After a while, she no longer needed to use a wheel chair to get into the building. She walked in on her own, but still needed to rest four times along the way.
Megan and Ralph, my therapists, monitored my heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation before, during and after exercise. I have diabetes so one thing they were very conscious about was having me check my blood sugar before exercise. If it was too low, they would make sure I had some juice or a snack first. ?ey gave me advice all along the way and have taught me so much, Scarbrough says. Most importantly, theyve taught me how to breathe right and how to deal with COPD on a daily basis to make my life better. Now I walk into rehab on my own, only stopping once before reaching my destination. Ive also lost weight and I have better control of my diabetes.
Exercise is a big part of PR, but in addition to improving physical fitness and controlling shortness of breath, participants learn many things including how to stay healthy, eat right and use medications correctly. Recently, Scarbrough was able to fly to Atlanta and attend her great-granddaughters christening.
Scarbroughs therapist educated her on the process and permissions to use her oxygen on the plane. On the morning of her trip, another oxygen user was at the airport, but didnt have the right paperwork and was not allowed to board. Grateful for the guidance shed received, Scarbrough realized she would have been in that situation herself had it not been for what she learned.
Scarbroughs come a long way since her first day.
I suggest that anyone with COPD take pulmonary rehab. You may not see how it can benefit you - but it can. All of my doubts are gone. I am so very grateful for being asked to go because it has really helped me to have a better way of life with COPD.