Pulmonary Rehab program gets patient off oxygen
Donovan Clark is sold on exercise benefits.
When he was younger, Donovan Clark quips he was one who - if he thought about exercising - "I'd lay down until the feeling passed."
Today the 84-year-old is
sold on the benefits of activity after the Reid Health Pulmonary Rehab program
was able to wean him off oxygen he started using when diagnosed with emphysema
earlier in 2019. He believes a smoking habit of 40 years is what gave him the
disease, which surfaced in April when he had an acute episode of shortness of
breath and came to the Reid Health ER.
"A more complete workup
led to a three-night stay, at the end of which I was told I have emphysema," he
says. He qualified for in-home oxygen, which he slept with every night for a
couple of months. He wasn't convinced quite yet, but decided to sign up for the
pulmonary rehab program and began twice-weekly sessions in May.
"I had 24 sessions,
ending about the third week of August," he says. He was able to do well on an
oxygen absorption test and no longer needed the oxygen. "I was most happy to
get that concentrator out of my sleeping area."
Clark says he at first
was suspicious of how exercise could help, since his lungs are not muscles and
had been damaged by a smoking habit. "I wasn't quite sure how that was going to
work," he recalls, "because the lungs are not exactly muscle the way the heart
According to the National
Emphysema Foundation, a program of regular exercise helps strengthen
muscles and make them more efficient. That means they require less oxygen for the
same activities. Exercise also benefits the muscles involved in breathing and
helps lung function.
Michelle Bohman, CRT, pulmonary rehab specialist,
called Clark a "model patient" for Pulmonary Rehab. "He worked extremely hard
in the therapy portion and benefitted with great results."
Clark began seeing
results from his twice a week sessions, and has continued in a maintenance
program after graduating. "To my amazement, when I finished, I was able to do a
second walking test and did well."
He plans to keep
exercising and appreciates how much better it has made his quality of life. "I
can't swear to it, but I think if I went out and walked around the block, I'd
feel like I did when I was 50."
"I can't swear to it, but I think if I went out and walked around the block, I'd feel like I did when I was 50."