The Key to COVID Recovery? Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Richard Mallard (Photo by Banner Health)

This year Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week takes place March 13-19 and with the long-lasting effects some COVID-19 patients are experiencing, the importance of this specialized rehab has become critical for many.

Roughly 20% of patients at Banner Health’s Pulmonary Rehab Clinic in Greeley are recovering COVID-19 patients and that number is currently on the rise. Exercise Physiologist Ashlee Kronholm and Registered Respiratory Therapist Lisa Swanson recently shared the benefits of the program and why it’s especially crucial for lung health and recovery.

“Oftentimes COVID-19 patients are discharged with mild to severe lung status that can’t be monitored accurately at home,” Lisa said. “This makes daily life activities like folding laundry, taking a shower, and walking up the stairs a risk, causing shortness of breath and fatigue. Banner Health’s Pulmonary Rehab Clinic is an environment for people to safely gain endurance and lung function back while being monitored and eventually cleared to take the exercises they’ve learned at the clinic home.”

Even young and healthy people who used to exercise frequently before becoming infected were set back so much that their lungs could no longer support the active lifestyle they were used to. One Banner patient, Richard Mallard (age 56), lost nearly 30 pounds and missed six weeks of work due to the severity of his illness. He could barely walk after he was discharged but now, following rehab with Ashlee, he can handle running several miles.

“I am a very self-motivated person, but this virus kicked my butt and I lost most of my motivation and will to get better until I started down the path of pulmonary rehab,” Richard said. “The support staff helped me get back on track and now I am back to work and spend quality time with my family. It’s been a really long road but the growth I experienced in rehab is a glimpse at what normal life can be like again.”

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