Respiratory Therapist Brenda Hanson supervises COPD patient Alice Rentz in the Avera St. Luke's Pulmonary Rehab Program.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the third leading cause of death. Avera St. Luke's in Aberdeen is helping people deal with this debilitating breathing disease with their pulmonary rehab program. KSFY's Josh Coan spoke to a woman going through the program
Alice Rentz was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD and has been on oxygen for three years.
Alice says, "I'm disappointed in myself cause I had smoked. At the same time I was encouraged because I knew there was help."
Alice found help with the Pulmonary Rehab Program at Avera St. Luke's and her Respiratory Therapist Brenda Hanson who also happens to coordinate the program.
Brenda says, "What we try do in our program is make them feel more active, gain some exercise advance and hopefully fell less shortness of breath."
When most people start to experience shortness of breath the last thing they want to do is exercise, but Avera St. Luke's Respiratory Therapists say that's actually the best thing for you.
Alice says, "If I had my choice I would rather just sit most of the time. Doing so, you'd just hurt yourself. So the best thing to do is to get up and do it and not only do you feel better physically, you feel better mentally."
The rehab program starts with physical therapy at Avera St. Luke's, but as the patient continues to improve the program moves to the YMCA. The team at Avera builds a sense of community and support, but each member works personally with a respiratory therapist so the program is unique to the individual.
Alice says, "The equipment that we use has strengthened my muscles throughout my body and it's kept me more active in my everyday life."
Alice is once again able to do simple house-hold chores like vacuuming.
Alice says, "I do it. Probably not all in one setting, but I am able to do it."
Alice knows she won't be cured from COPD, but with the Pulmonary Rehab Program she can live with it. Alice says not only is she having an easier time breathing, but she is feeling stronger and even lost some weight.