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Program brings breath of fresh air to rural Albertans 

Lorena Franchuk

November 4, 2020

+Extra Beat

Exercise specialists reap rewards with patient success

Wainwright exercise specialist Natalie Costa, right, celebrates client Doris Johnson’s graduation from Breathe Easy with colleague/respiratory therapist Laura Adamson (left).  – Photo Supplied

It’s not a stretch to say this profession can yield breathtaking results.

Exercise specialists who work with the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Breathe Easy Program often witness the payoffs pretty fast, says Rena Sorensen, a professional practice lead with AHS Allied Health Central Zone in Ponoka.

“You’re working with people who can’t dress themselves. You work with them for 12 weeks, and, now, not only can they dress themselves, but they are going outside and playing with their grandkids for an hour every couple of weeks,” said Sorensen. “And you’re the reason … you trained them to do that. The gains are huge.”

Natalie Costa, an exercise specialist in Wainwright, who works with the Breathe Easy program, wholeheartedly agrees. Costa helps facilitate the exercise component of the 16-week program designed to help people improve their quality of life while living with lung disease.

“I see so much improvement so quickly with these patients as long as they are doing the work,” said Costa. “You really take for granted your abilities until you work with people with severe lung disease … and realize how limited they are.”

Costa’s clients have changed significantly since she trained triathletes in Ontario, whose goal was to shave five minutes off their best times during a year’s worth of training.

“That’s why I love programs like [Breathe Easy], because you’re working with [patients] over time and you really get to know them.”

Sorensen said she often gets feedback like that from kinesiologists.

“It’s so rewarding to work with Breathe Easy, it’s almost miraculous what you can do for your clients.”

— Lorena Franchuk 

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