Pulmonary rehabilitation breathes new life into patients

Four pulmonary rehabilitation patients and three FSH staff standing together in the gym smiling.
Denise pictured front-left alongside other Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program clients and FSH physiotherapists.
September 19, 2023

"Pulmonary rehabilitation has given me a second chance at life."

These are the words of 68-year-old Denise Wood who is now stronger both physically and mentally after receiving care through the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

Denise is no stranger when it comes to living with respiratory problems. Having lived with adult-onset asthma for nearly 30 years combined with a history of smoking, she now lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a condition which affects approximately 1 in 13 Australians aged over 40 years.

After visiting her local GP, Denise was referred to see a respiratory doctor at FSH where it was suggested she attends the FSH Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

"There were days when my breathing was so difficult that I was pleased to watch the postman drive past, simply to avoid making a trip to my letterbox and back," Denise explained.

"But the nightmare was taking the rubbish bins out each week.

"When it came to the second bin, I would be gasping for breath, praying that I could make it back to the house."

Despite having never set foot in a gym, this turned out to the best decision Denise has ever made for herself.

"Before I attended the gym, I couldn't walk the length of the hospital without having to stop and rest at least three times," Denise said.

"This concerned me as I was worried I was going to be asked to do exercises that I simply could not manage."

Met by a professional, dedicated and caring team of physiotherapists, Denise's expectations of the gym were quickly surpassed.

Attending twice a week, Denise received an exercise program tailored to her respiratory needs, completing a range of cardiovascular and strength exercises.

"I must confess that I dreaded going to the gym during my first two weeks and considered giving up," Denise said.

"I am so thankful that I persevered, I am stronger both physically and mentally.

"I can put the bins out with ease, and I look forward to seeing the postman arrive.

"I can complete my housework easier and can go shopping without worrying whether I will make it home or not."

Denise encourages anyone experiencing respiratory problems to get in touch with their local GP or respiratory doctor for a referral to attend a local pulmonary rehabilitation program.

To find out more about pulmonary rehabilitation programs, visit the Lung Foundation Australia website (external link).

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