WALK OF LIFE

Patients walk and breathe easier at pulmonary rehab

Walking from the driveway to the front door and scooping his grandkids into a bear hug is one of Robert Burns’ favorite things to do. And it’s one of many things people often take for granted. But not Robert. For many of his patients, they just hope to be able to move across a room again.

Robert works as a registered respiratory therapist in East Cobb and helps people reclaim their lives by teaching them how to breathe better.

“The rewarding thing about this job is you get someone who can barely take a few steps and get them to where they can exercise for 45 minutes,” said Robert, who works at Pulmonary Rehabilitation at WellStar East Cobb Health Park. “They usually think we’re completely nuts at first! They say ‘I can’t go across the room; how do you expect me to exercise for 45 minutes?’

They’re just amazed at what we help them achieve.”
Often, people with breathing disorders like emphysema, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis start with manageable symptoms. But over time, they breathe faster and shallower, struggling for air. They often wait a long time before admitting they can’t breathe well or walk to the mailbox.

“Our patients often get short of breath during physical activity, so they stop doing those things because they don’t want to lose their breath,” he said. “They get to the point where they can’t do anything because they’re so physically deconditioned.”
But Robert and the team of respiratory therapists, nurses, exercise physiologists and dietitians he works with help patients breathe well again and walk further than they ever thought possible.

Once in pulmonary rehab, therapists will work with patients on breathing retraining. Learning new breathing techniques can help patients manage symptoms so they can become more active.
Patients may also learn how to use their oxygen correctly or get professional help with nutrition, as many patients with breathing disorders struggle to manage a healthy weight.

Robert Burns doesn’t take for granted his ability to
kneel down and play with his grandkids. At WellStar
East Cobb Pulmonary Rehab, he works with patients so they can do simple tasks again, like walk across a
room or check the mail.

Robert remembers a patient with two respiratory illnesses who could barely make it through his first appointment. But now, he no longer depends on oxygen, can exercise for an hour and enjoys camping in the mountains again.

As for Robert, he has a healthy appreciation for the good things in life: he walks the beach with his wife, Melanie, gardens, hunts, fishes and four-wheels with the grandkids. And, he wants to help his patients enjoy what makes them happy too.
“It’s rewarding to see patients enjoy life again,” he said.

For more information about Pulmonary Rehab in East Cobb, call 770-956-0180. Pulmonary Rehab is located at WellStar East Cobb Health Park at 3747 Roswell Road in Marietta.