Pulmonary Rehab: Helping Patients Live Their Best Lives

Man using arm bike at rehab | Doylestown Health

Charlie Catherwood builds upper body strength and endurance with Doylestown Health Respiratory
Therapist Doreen Noto, RRT, of the hospital’s outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercise Program.

Charlie Catherwood, 75, of Warrington, PA, is a regular at Doylestown Health’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercise Program, where medically supervised exercise training and health education combine to help people with chronic lung disease live life to the fullest.

“When I exercise, I need oxygen,” explains Charlie, an active retiree who enjoys spending time with his family — especially at the shore. “Working out in Pulmonary Rehab helps me build stamina and control my weight. I feel better, and the exercise helps me keep up with my grandkids.”

Designed to build fitness and help patients breathe easier, the program focuses on strength, the ability to complete daily activities and reducing symptoms related to lung disease, according to Doreen Noto, RRT, a registered respiratory therapist.

Charlie finished the initial phase of Pulmonary Rehab five years ago, and wanted to continue to reap the benefits of the twice a week, monitored workouts. He joined the maintenance program and has been a member ever since. For Charlie, that means he can exercise longer without shortness of breath. “I’m really not limited,” he explains. “And, when I’m out and walking a lot I have portable oxygen tanks I can use.”

Who Can Benefit from Pulmonary Rehab?

“Our program is designed to help people whose lungs have been damaged by disease who need supplemental oxygen, have shortness of breath with minimal activity, or lung weakness that limits their performance,” says Dave Johnson, RRT, director of Respiratory Care at Doylestown Health. A patient needs a physician’s order to enter the program, which meets twice a week, for an hour, for nine - 18 weeks depending on the doctor’s recommendation and the patient’s condition.

The Pulmonary Rehab program supports patients with a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Other pulmonary diseases
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation can help patients recovering from chest or lung surgery.

What Happens at Pulmonary Rehab?

Helping patients set and achieve goals

"As respiratory therapists, we get to know our patients and help them to establish goals around improving quality of life and building endurance,” explains Doreen Noto, RRT. “We develop a customized exercise program around their goals.”

Building endurance and confidence

“While patients exercise on a treadmill, bicycle, weights or other equipment, we monitor their vital signs, oxygen levels and exercise status,” explains Doreen, noting that she recommends that her patients purchase a pulse oximeter for home use. This finger clip device allows patients to track their blood oxygen levels as they enjoy activities outside of Pulmonary Rehab.

As exercise builds endurance and confidence, the program’s educational component empowers patients with knowledge on topics such as:

  • Understanding your condition and medications
  • Explaining the cardiac system and how it is tied to breathing
  • Healthy eating and the importance of nutrition
  • Help with psychosocial and quality of life issues
  • Information about coping mechanisms
  • Sleep apnea education
  • Smoking cessation counseling

Maintaining progress

“We encourage all patients to continue their monitored workouts beyond graduation through our maintenance program or a local gym,” says Doreen.

More about Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program meets in Doylestown Health’s new Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Suite on the first floor of the state-of-the-art Dee Ann and Marvin Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care.

Please call Doylestown Health Respiratory Care to learn more 215.345.2249.


About Doylestown Health and Doylestown Hospital

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health, has 247 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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