Did you know that shortness of breath is not part of the normal aging process?
Far too often people just ignore this very important symptom that could be an early sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. COPD is one of the most common referral diagnoses that the Rehabilitation Center at Shell Point treats.
Recently, Director of Therapy Christine Gulotta, DPT, presented a highly interactive and fun presentation about energy conservation to the Shell Point COPD support group. “Managing everyday tasks can be very difficult with COPD. But with the right resources, it can be much more manageable,” said Christine.
“I teach my patients breathing exercises, which are designed to open up the diaphragm. We also discuss energy conservation and what simple in-home changes will make the activities of daily living a bit easier. For example, keep often-used items in your home at waist level, so you don’t have to exert as much energy reaching high in a cabinet or grabbing something off the floor of your closet,” shared Christine.
Therapists often use simple everyday items as props when finding creative ways to challenge patients to take deeper breaths – while having fun! During the COPD presentation, Christine challenged participants to breathe deeply by blowing pinwheels and using straws to blow pingpong balls across the table.
Specialized training for the Shell Point therapy team assures pulmonary protocols are followed throughout the sessions, which includes close monitoring of vitals and assessing patients’ level of exertion. Patient education is also an important part of therapy, and therapists focus on teaching patients how to manage their COPD condition by setting therapeutic goals for energy conservation, integrating breathing techniques with mobility, improving postural restrictions, and working to increase aerobic activity tolerance. This approach can even help people to manage their oxygen needs.
If you have questions or are interested in working with therapist, please contact the Rehab Center at Shell Point by calling (239) 454-2256. Therapy does require a physician’s order, and patients are encouraged to talk about the benefits of therapy services with their primary care physician.