Put Your Heart Into It: What is Cardiac Rehab? Part I


When your heart fails, what saves your life might be a heart transplant, valve replacement, or other critical procedure. But what improves your quality of life may be what follows: a cardiac rehabilitation program and individualized treatment plan designed to build up your strength, endurance, and independence.

The Nathaniel Witherell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has a team of licensed physical, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists trained and equipped to meet your needs. They are experienced in treating a variety of cardiac diagnoses including heart surgery, valve replacements, heart transplants, heart attack, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other cardiac complications, according to Dina Meles, M.S., CCC-SLP, rehabilitation manager.

“It takes an entire team of nursing, rehab, dietary and social work to ensure each patient’s own unique needs are met,” said Meles. “Our therapists work with the Nathaniel Witherells’ multidisciplinary team to ensure the social, emotional, medical and nutritional needs are met for a patient’s improved quality of life and recovery.”

If you have experienced heart failure, you’re not alone. Some 6.5 million Americans live with heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for oxygen, and another 650,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Heart Association. But there’s hope—research studies show patients with chronic heart failure who engage in an exercise program are significantly more likely to feel in overall better health—and have fewer hospitalizations.

The rehabilitation team at Nathaniel Witherell recognizes that cardiac rehab can help patients feel better, do more, and live longer, said Theo Guico, one of Witherell’s physical therapists.

“Its our goal in cardiac physical therapy to bring a patient back to their prior level of function—and that includes strengthening the heart and whole body. Therapists work closely together to make therapy functional—and fun,” said Guico. “We work with patients, family members and medical staff to closely monitor progress and achievement of goals. When a patient’s progress makes them smile, we smile right along with them.”

Stay tuned for part two…what to expect from your cardiac rehabilitation program!






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