NEWS | March 14, 2019

Pulmonary rehab is exercise therapy and much more

Patient praises the program that made her lungs and life better

(SACRAMENTO)

Gail Shamberg-Pero has dealt with chronic lung disease for years. While her physicians help make her "unsick," as she calls it, pulmonary rehabilitation plays an important role in her overall wellness.

With the help of pulmonary rehab, Gail Shamberg-Pero continues to enjoy mountain hikes despite her two chronic lung conditions. She is shown above in McGee Canyon in the Eastern Sierra. <em>Photo by Amy Shamberg-Pero.</em> With the help of pulmonary rehab, Gail Shamberg-Pero continues to enjoy mountain hikes despite her two chronic lung conditions. She is shown above in McGee Canyon in the Eastern Sierra. <em>Photo by Amy Shamberg-Pero.</em>

The program has improved her lung function and connected her with a posse of pals who “get it.”

“It’s truly another home for me,” Shamberg-Pero said. “We are all dealing with the same things and cheer each other on."

Help for anyone with chronic pulmonary disease

Shamberg-Pero has chronic pulmonary blood clots. She also has bronchiectasis, a condition that causes her airways to expand and collect mucous, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, fatigue and frequent bacterial infections.

Others in pulmonary rehab have COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension or lung transplants. While their conditions are distinct, they all have the same goal: to live life more fully with lung disease.

“Pulmonary rehab helps people breathe better, and that is definitely our primary purpose,” said respiratory therapist and program supervisor Aimee Kizziar. “But we often hear more praise for the community of support we create for patients.”

That community, according to Kizziar, reduces the isolation, fear and depression that often accompany chronic lung conditions.

Effective treatment can also be fun

Each pulmonary rehab treatment plan is unique and typically includes exercise therapy, nutritional guidance, psychosocial support and education on topics like medication management. Special activities such as yoga, mindfulness and a singing group called the Rockin’ Rehabbers are both fun and therapeutic.

It's National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week and a great time to get to know the dedicated respiratory therapists at UC Davis Health Pulmonary Rehabilitation — Veronica Encarnacion, Angela Coburn and Aimee Kizziar (pictured below, left to right). The program is proven to reduce symptoms and hospital visits and build resilience for those with chronic lung disease. To schedule a visit, call 916-321-5611 or email alkizziar@ucdavis.edu.Pulmonary Rehab Team

For Shamberg-Pero, who says "the mountains are my church,” the program helps her continue to enjoy her love of hiking. A retired UC Davis nurse and health educator, she also facilitates the support group and mindfulness sessions.

“I could say pulmonary rehab saved my life, and that would be true,” Shamberg-Pero said. “In addition to improving my lung function and my quality of life, it also saved my spirit.”

Pulmonary rehab at UC Davis Health is accredited by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and led by Kimberly Hardin, professor of pulmonary, sleep and critical care medicine. Last year, the program moved to state-of-the art facilities in midtown Sacramento at 2825 J Street. The clinic also houses pulmonary medicine specialists, giving patients opportunities to schedule appointments with their physicians and participate in pulmonary rehab at the same time.

Kizziar encourages UC Davis Health physicians and nurses who work with patients who have lung disease to stop by for a tour. Contact her to schedule a day and time at 916-321-5611 or alkizziar@ucdavis.edu.

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