By Chris Brehm PT, DPT
Respiratory therapy/Pulmonary Rehabilitation plays a key role in improving lung health for patients with respiratory disease. Optimal management of respiratory diseases involves an integrated care approach. One of the cornerstones of the multidisciplinary, collaborative approach at Lifeline is the respiratory therapist.
The pulmonary rehabilitation team at Lifeline consists of physical therapist, respiratory therapists, and a social worker. The team works closely to complete a comprehensive assessment and develop an individually tailored care plan targeted to enhance your independence and confidence through achieving milestones. The respiratory therapist applies proven strategies to meet your respiratory care needs and improve lung function. The respiratory therapist provides self- management education, exercise training, social support, and breathing exercise training to help you return to a more active and healthy lifestyle. The respiratory therapist also assesses your current equipment and determines equipment needs, facilitates obtaining the proper equipment, and will assist with titrating your oxygen as appropriate.
Dawn Rusak RRT is Lifeline’s Respiratory Care Coordinator has a Certification in Pulmonary Rehab from the AARC/AACVPR. “I wanted to get my certificate in pulmonary rehab to make sure I had all the tools I needed to make the biggest difference in my patient’s lives. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge I can pass on to my patients the better they can manage their lung disease. I am able to educate my patients on all aspects of their lung disease including oxygen therapy and safety, how to properly use and manage medications, as well as why they are on specific medications. Most importantly, I teach people how to breathe properly and this can make a big improvement in a person’s shortness of breath.” Dawn goes on to say “I love being a respiratory therapist in pulmonary rehab. I am able to make a difference in people’s lives. It is rewarding to see the confidence and independence gained through education and independence training. Our program is our patient’s ‘Lifeline’. Their satisfaction makes being a respiratory therapist rewarding.”