Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | September 29, 2017

Pulmonary Rehab “Has Changed Everything” for Patient with Chronic Lung Disease

debbie aldridgeBefore she was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) two years ago, Debbie Aldridge was an active mother of two, who enjoyed scuba diving, swimming, water skiing, biking and walking for exercise. PAH results from high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, and the progression of the disease has forced Debbie to use assistive oxygen full-time and limited her physical activity.

“Losing the freedom of mobility was devastating,” Debbie says. “My self-esteem disintegrated and I started to feel worse because I had no way to exercise.”

Debbie heard about the pulmonary rehabilitation program at Duke Specialty Rehab Services Midtown from her doctor at Duke University Hospital, but was convinced to go when someone at her church – who had completed the program – recommended it to her after noticing her cannula (a tube used to deliver oxygen through the nose).

Midtown’s dedicated pulmonary rehabilitation staff work with patients suffering from lung diseases including COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary rehab helps patients overcome shortness of breath and fatigue associated with exercise and daily living activities like climbing stairs. Pulmonary rehab can also help those being considered for a lung transplant meet the waiting list requirements, strengthen them for surgery, and help them recover from the procedure.

“I can go anywhere for a gym; I know how to work out,” Debbie says. “But this is one of the only places I can go for oxygen.”

Debbie needs constant, high-flow oxygen during her workouts to be able to exercise while maintaining a safe blood oxygen level. Midtown’s facility includes exercise equipment and dedicated inhaled oxygen to support patient’s activity and recovery.

Since entering pulmonary rehab, Debbie has successfully completed the initial program and now visits Midtown two days a week to maintain her workout routine. She’s noticed a difference in her strength and endurance, and can walk further than when she began the program.

“Pulmonary rehab has given me my life back,” Debbie says. “It’s changed everything, and I know I will continue to get stronger and stay strong because of this program.”

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