Building a Houston pulmonary rehabilitation program

New hope to breathe easier and better again for patients

According to Dr. Odoh, clinicians at Houston Health Centre are concerned that their COPD patients are not doing well. (File photo/Houston Today)

According to Dr. Odoh, clinicians at Houston Health Centre are concerned that their COPD patients are not doing well. (File photo/Houston Today)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Major symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing. It’s typically caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, mental illness, chronic fatigue and a variety of other conditions.

An example of a patient living with COPD:

Ms. Edeth is a 60-year-old grandmother with COPD. She is short of breath (SOB) all the time. She stays home most often as every little physical activity, including dressing up and doing chores, worsens her SOB. She is too SOB and tired to make food and eat well and as a result, Ms. Edeth has lost so much weight and looks frail.

She spends much energy to breath and feels tired all the time. Ms. Edeth’s condition has deteriorated over the years, and she feels sad and frustrated with her life. She uses an inhaler every day, which only improves her breath for a short while. She wishes her breath and strength would improve one day for her to play again with her lovely grandkids.

Ms. Edeth has been getting all the treatment recommended for COPD treatment except pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD is confirmed to improve breathing, capacity and tolerance of physical activity and general wellness of COPD patients.

It is a core component of COPD care but is unfortunately not available to most COPD patients, especially those in rural communities. It is a rehabilitation program that runs an average of 8 weeks and comprises a series of specialized, personalized and relevant education, exercise, counselling, dietary, medication and social supports for COPD patients.

The program is delivered by a team of clinicians and could lead to developing a long-term peer support group. Participants in the program often meet in a group with the clinicians.

The Houston Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program: A new way to help Houston patients living with COPD:

The clinicians at Houston Health Centre are concerned that their COPD patients are not doing well as expected despite using their medication as recommended and plan to start a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program that will be available for all COPD patients in Houston in January 2022.

The clinicians will provide a wide range of rehabilitation support; the dietitian and counsellor will provide relevant COPD dietary and counselling support for the patient through their wellness journey . The pharmacist will guide each participant on the best inhaler/medications and the best way to use them.

The social worker will assist participants in navigating through social challenges associated with COPD, including necessary information and application for disability funds. Physicians and nurses will provide assessment, support patients with quitting smoking, coping with stress, and ongoing medical care while the physical therapist leads the exercise program.

Exercise training is a very important component of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program and includes special types that help COPD patients breathe better and easier without running out of air and energy during physical activities.

The Houston Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program for COPD patients is free, and any COPD patient interested in the program can call 250-877-9354 to register.