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For people with chronic respiratory diseases, pulmonary rehabilitation is an important part of recovery especially for those who remain symptomatic or continue to have decreased function despite medical treatment.
Many long-term research studies have confirmed pulmonary rehabilitation to be the most effective method of rehabilitating patients and is an effective tool their recovery.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs have been proven to improve patient’s functional capacity, reduce shortness of breath, increase exercise tolerance and promote an overall sense of wellbeing while reducing risk of re-hospitalisation.
Run by Physiotherapist Matthew Hutchins, the Mater offers an eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation program which incorporates two weekly gym sessions, home exercise program and education to help patients regain normal everyday function and better manage their respiratory condition.
"We can see a wide range of patients from those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases including those recovered from COVID-19 but are still experiencing decreased function," Matthew said.
"Classes are tailored to each patient, their illness, current fitness level, personal goals and what they enjoy doing. The classes are a friendly and welcoming environment for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
"The classes are very successful, but you only get out what you put in, I consistently see patients who commit to the program achieve fantastic results."
Matthew explains running classes are not without challenges, most recently the pandemic forced face to face classes to move online.
"This was difficult in many ways as I had to modify my classes to an online version which proved difficult for some of my elderly patients who were not as experienced with using the technology," Matthew said.
"However, having classes online and being able to follow up patients via Telehealth has proven more effective with others who do not need to worry about travel and parking and are able to participate in classes from the comfort of their own home.
"I am now able to run a mixed program with a combination of online and in person classes which has improved patient choice and experience."
Another important compontent of the program is speech pathology as patients with respiratory-related disease experiencing acute or chronic swallowing problems.
Speech Pathology Team Lead Lucy Lyons explains patients can experience swallow fatigue, impaired breath swallow synchrony, reduced laryngeal sensation, accompanying reflux, and compromised oral hygiene are all symptoms.
“Patients who have received speech pathology support during the program have reported an increased understanding of oral health, swallowing and reflux and how to manage their condition,” Lucy said.
Referrals to the pulmonary rehabilitation clinic can be made by your local GP or Respiratory Physician, find out more here https://www.mater.org.au/health/what-we-do/physiotherapy-1
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