J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon is celebrating AACVPR National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week, March 10-16, promoting the benefits pulmonary rehabilitation can provide patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week, initiated by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), aims to educate the community about the role of pulmonary rehabilitation in enhancing the quality of life of individuals with chronic lung disease. This year’s theme, “Exercise Your Right to Breathe,” honors individuals who struggle to overcome shortness of breath and the pulmonary professionals who work every day to alleviate that struggle and improve patients’ everyday life.

J.C. Blair’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program opened in 2014 to help patients with COPD and other lung disease to best manage their condition, slow the progression of the disease and improve their quality of life.

Under the medical direction of pulmonologist Rob Gillio, M.D., registered respiratory therapist Brittany Horton is the lead therapist for the program. Patients are enrolled in a twelve-week program consisting of 36 sessions that include exercise, education, and psychosocial support. Dr. Gillio stated, “I am honored to be a part of this small but highly regarded program that has been cited as one of the best in the state. Our patients routinely gain endurance and a sense of wellbeing, from the supervised exercise, personal attention, and plan for continued success after rehab.”

Admission to the program requires a physician referral. Before starting the program all insurances will be checked and authorized, so patients will know what costs will be covered by their insurance.

Exercise is a key component of the pulmonary rehabilitation program. It is common for people with lung disease to limit activity because of shortness of breath but when inactive, muscle and heart strength decline. Patients learn exercise techniques that will help them regain control of breathing and learn how to work within their limitations and increase their capabilities. This may include walking, stationary cycling, or using the arm ergometer. In addition, home exercise guidelines and instruction are provided.

Patients interested in the program are invited to call J.C. Blair’s Cardiopulmonary Department at (814) 643-8645 and consult with their doctor about a possible referral. More information is available on the J.C. Blair Hospital website: http://www.jcblair.org/services/cardiopulmonary.php

J.C. Blair Pulmonary Rehabilitation patient Shelby Franks celebrated Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week with pulmonary rehab technician Brittany Horton, RRT, and shared the following:

"I have pulmonary hypertension, so my cardiologist recommended that I try pulmonary rehab. I honestly live closer to State College than J.C. Blair, but when given the option.... I sure did ask for J.C. Blair by name. I am so glad that I did! Brittany is motivational and her education has been spot on for helping me to feel better and not be short winded. I am so motivated by this program, that I now exercise at home, something I have not done in a long time."