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Pulmonary Rehabilitation 

There is no worse feeling than being "short of breath". Avera Sacred Heart’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is designed for people with lung disorders. The Pulmonary Rehab Program at Avera Sacred Heart seeks to slow down and minimize progression of the debilitating symptoms of lung disease by combining exercise with education, breathing retraining, nutritional counseling and psychosocial support.

Individualized programs can be set up for patients of all ages who suffer from any of a variety of lung disorders, such as:

  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • History of ARDS
  • Emphysema
  • Cystic Fibrosis 
  • Fibrosis 
  • Pre and Post Lung Transplant
  • Lung Reduction Candidates


Pulmonary Rehabilitation Goals 

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program seeks to:

  • Reduce patient's shortness of breath and the anxiety it brings
  • Increase exercise tolerance and ability to perform normal daily activities
  • Increase patients' understanding of their particular lung disorder
  • Educate patients on the proper use of respiratory medications
  • Teach patients to master proper use of respiratory medications
  • Teach patients to master proper breathing techniques
  • Reduce the possibility of hospitalizations
  • Instruct and motivate patients to start and maintain a home exercise program
  • Promote self-reliance and independence

How Does it Work?

How The Pulmonary Rehab Program Works:

After referral is received from a physician, patients receive an extensive interview and various tests are conducted by a respiratory therapist and a registered nurse. Testing consists of full pulmonary function studies, a six or twelve minute walk test with oximetry, an EKG, some blood work and a simple physical assessment. Test results are reviewed with our physician director, and with the aid of the respiratory therapist, an exercise program is customized to meet the patient's needs.

The Pulmonary Rehab Program is an eight-week program meeting two to three times a week. During these sessions customized exercise programs are combined with group lectures from hospital personnel on a variety of topics consistent with the patient's program. Upon completion of the program, a home or hospital based exercise program is set up so patients can continue to maintain progress and healthy living habits.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I attend Pulmonary Rehab?

Your commitment to develop a healthier and more active lifestyle is the first step to an improved quality of life. The fear of being short of breath can be overwhelming and influence decisions regarding activities. Those decisions often lead to reconditioning and more profound disabilities. This cycle of inactivity is very difficult to break.

Am I a good candidate for Pulmonary Rehab?

To determine if you are a good candidate for pulmonary rehab, ask yourself these questions:

  • Has my disease affected my ability to work? engage in recreational activities? perform activities of daily living?
  • Am I willing to participate in a self-help program of exercise and education in coping with chronic lung disease? Your condition will not improve unless you increase the endurance and strength of your muscles.
  • Have I stopped smoking and am I protecting myself from secondhand smoke? You may not participate in the program if you are currently a smoker.
  • Can I commit to attending rehab for 60-90 minutes per session three times a week for eight weeks? Your exercise sessions will begin at a low level, which you can comfortably complete, and will gradually increase in intensity and duration as you are able to do more.

How can I start Pulmonary Rehab?

Ask your physician for a referral to the program.  The Avera Sacred Heart Pulmonary Rehabilitation staff will work with you, your physician, and your insurance provider in order to verify coverage for the program.  Changes in diet, exercise, approach to activities of daily living, and smoking habits can decrease the impact of the disease by helping you return to a higher degree of physiologic and psychosocial function.

Vmax Autobox

Pulmonary Function Laboratory

The Pulmonary Function Laboratory provides a new view of pulmonary diagnosis at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital.

Senior Medics Vmax Autobox

Located on second floor, the Pulmonary Function Lab houses the Senior Medics Vmax Autobox. The Vmax system enables accurate lung volume and gas diffusion assessment. Sensitive lung volume measurements provide precise information on total lung capacity.

Peter Winder, Supervisor of the Avera Sacred Heart Respiratory Department, said traditional exhaled flow and volume measurements used in testing lung capacity could not determine residual lung capacity. “This state-of-the-art equipment takes us beyond the traditional means of airflow measurements and gives us a broader, more concise means of testing for our COPD patients,” Winder said.