Rehabilitation Program “Making Life Easier” at Penn Highlands Brookville

The rehabilitation portion of the healing process is crucial. Whether it be a broken bone or a heart attack, rehabbing your body back to good health is a must. Penn Highlands Brookville recently launched a new exercise therapy program specifically for patients who suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is the narrowing of blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. Supervised exercise therapy (SET) for PAD assists with relieving the pain patients may experience that comes along with the condition.

Jim Hepfl, a resident of Limestone, recently graduated from the SET for PAD program. “My time spent there was well worth it,” stated Hepfl.

While travelling out of the area to receive care for his PAD diagnosis, Hepfl was in need of therapy to help relieve the severe pain he was experiencing in his right leg and foot. He was being referred to a SET program in the Pittsburgh area when his wife, Lynn, saw that Penn Highlands Brookville had started the same program much closer to home. According to Hepfl, his first day of therapy consisted of a six-minute walk where he experienced severe pain. By the last day, he was able to do the same six-minute walk without experiencing any discomfort.

“The SET program offers benefits to patients such as decreasing the need for surgical procedures like peripheral bypass or stenting of the arteries in the lower extremities,” said Annette Wolbert, RN, who is a Certified Cardiac Rehab Professional (CCRP) at Penn Highlands Brookville with more than 30 years of experience.

The SET for PAD program includes supervised walking therapy and lifestyle coaching. Therapy sessions last 60 minutes, and patients attend three days a week for a 12-week period. Each session is led by qualified staff who have been trained in this type of specialty therapy. The program helps patients perform the activities of daily living with less difficulty and walk longer distances without pain. The lifestyle portion of the program educates patients on healthy eating, tobacco use and modifications they can make at home to help relieve their symptoms.

“Every day the staff provided a lesson on diet and lifestyle changes,” stated Hepfl. “When they talked about salt and sugar intake, I learned a lot.”

Overall, Hepfl said his experience was very positive while completing the SET for PAD program at Penn Highlands Brookville. “The staff were great people and made the process easier,” Hepfl mentioned. “The program itself is important, but the staff made all the difference.”

Lynn Hepfl said her husband has had a significant increase in quality of life since he completed the therapy program. The couple is looking forward to being able to take trips and do other activities that weren’t possible before.

Cardiac Rehabilitation at Penn Highlands Brookville offers patients a professionally supervised outpatient program that assists in recovery from various health conditions. Cardiac rehabilitation is a program for anyone recovering from heart attacks, cardiac bypass surgery, stents, angioplasty and other heart-related illnesses. With two nationally certified cardiac rehabilitation nurses on staff at Penn Highlands Brookville, Annette Wolbert RN, CCRP, and Crystal Stanford RN, CCRP, patients are provided with support and guidance while healing from their heart related ailments through education and exercise. Benefits of receiving services from the Penn Highlands Cardiac Rehabilitation program include decreasing the risk of heart disease, reducing shortness of breath, decreasing depression and anxiety and being able to return to work and perform daily living with less difficulty.

Penn Highlands Brookville Cardiac Rehabilitation is located on the second floor of the hospital at 100 Hospital Road in Brookville. For more information, visit or call (814)-849-1818.

Annette Wolbert, RN, CCRP and Crystal Stanford, RN, CCRP are the coordinators of the SET for PAD program at Penn Highlands Brookville.