MONTICELLO — Gene Dallinger can breathe a lot easier now.
Dallinger, of Reynolds, suffers from COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and started working in March with pulmonary rehab at Indiana University Health White Memorial in March.
He entered the hospital in using a quad cane and was using a motorized cart each time he went to Walmart. He said his biggest complaint was not being able to work in his garden because he cannot easily get back on his feet without assistance.
COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. While there is no cure, it can be treated.
Enter IU Health White Memorial Hospital.
IU Health White Memorial added pulmonary rehabilitation to its services in 2019. Pulmonary rehab is a program designed to assist patients with lung or breathing problems in learning to live a more satisfying life within the limits of their disease. The pulmonary rehab program is a combination of education, exercise, goal-setting and long-term maintenance for continued success.
When Dallinger started his rehab, he was only able to walk small 25-foot laps in the pulmonary rehab department, before he needed to sit down and take a break. The pulmonary rehab team provided education to help him advance further each time. The education included energy-conserving techniques and different breathing methods.
Dallinger participates two days a week. According to hospital staff, he has become stronger and more confident in himself with lots of encouragement. Dallinger has completed more than 70% of his pulmonary rehab sessions and is now walking 40-45 minutes with a consistent speed on the treadmill.
When he is finished walking, he uses a recumbent bike for an additional 15-20 minutes. He no longer uses a cane and is able to push a cart around the store. He is even helping his son with work on the family farm.
“I feel so much better and am able to do so much more without getting short of breath,” he said.
Dallinger said he enjoys woodworking in his free time and is proud to share his hard work with the pulmonary rehab team.
“Dallinger is much stronger and more confident with his normal daily activities, which is our ultimate goal in pulmonary rehab,” explained Kelsey Stetler, registered respiratory therapist with IU Health White Memorial. “We want our patients leaving us and living the best life they can live, even with COPD.”
To learn more about the pulmonary rehabilitation program at IU Health White Memorial Hospital call 574.583.2667.