Education nothing to sneeze at

Patient education is nothing to gloss over for a subacute pulmonary program at Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital and Geriatric Center in Wheeling, WV.

Patients learn about their disease, their treatment plans, use and care of the equipment, prevention of infection, environmental factors that can trigger an attack, other triggers, and medications and their use. The family is included in the educational sessions and is referred to support groups.

Patients with chronic pulmonary conditions have had a change in self- image because the disease has made it difficult for them to do simple day-to-day activities. Many are depressed. One of the program’s goals is to direct the patients’ focus away from themselves and their conditions.

The staff has put together a notebook of educational materials for patients. There is a section for patients to write down their feelings and achievements. Patients are taught to use a log to measure their progress and see that they are improving, says Elizabeth Sproull, RNC, MEd, administrator/director of nursing. For instance, a patient may note he took 10 minutes to get his socks on but never felt winded. He could look back to see that on a previous day, he never got his socks on because he was too short of breath.

"The little increments of progress may not be noticeable, but when they write them down, they can see that they are improving," Sproull says.

The facility hired a staff person to teach yoga and relaxation techniques. Yoga helps patients learn to focus, Sproull says. The program also includes a Tai Chi posturing class; a range-of-motion dance class; sing-alongs led by the music therapists, which help patients increase their breath and expand their lung capacity; and videotapes of comedies. The hospital chaplain works with patients on spiritual issues.