June 18, 2008

Rehab Jump-Start

By Samantha Swindler, The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky.

Jun. 17--He came in wanting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and although he hasn't quite met his goal, Donald Dizney is leaving Knox County Hospital a much healthier man.

At the end of this month, Dizney -- or "Schwarzie" as he is called by the staff -- will become the first graduate of Knox County Hospital's cardio-pulmonary rehab program.

The 12-week program first began at Knox County Hospital on May 2 and is designed for those who have had a heart attack, any kind of heart surgery, chronic lung disease, or any other problems with respiratory dysfunction.

Dizney, 66, of Barbourville, had triple-bypass surgery on Jan. 2, 2007.

After surgery, he said he was sore, tired and weak, and his doctor recommended the rehab program.

David Moses, manager of the cardio luminary department, said patients will see a decrease in blood pressure, decrease in heart rate, and an increase in stamina after exercise, and the rehab program allows patients to work out in a safe environment.

"After the surgery, they tend to lose their function and are not very active," Moses said. "What we do is build their endurance back up."

Equipment includes two treadmills, one recumbent bike, two hand bikes and two weight machines. Eight patients are currently enrolled in the program.

After about nine weeks in the program, Dizney said he has more energy, and can walk from his car, through the parking lot and to a store without getting winded.

"Let me put it to you this way," he said. "When I get here in the morning, I feel like hell. When I leave here, I feel like a million bucks."

But it wasn't easy to get to this point.

John Coloins, physical therapist, meets with patients and their doctors to determine the appropriate level of physical exertion.

This could be why some of his patients purchase him a plaque that hangs in the workout room -- "John's House of Pain and Prayer" -- complete with a bull whip.

John laughed when he said he has jokingly been referred to as "the asassian" by his patients.

But after the pain, he said patients definitely feel the gain. They are able to do simple activities such as house cleaning, gardening or playing with grandchildren without losing their breath.

"They begin to get their lives back," he said.

What's unique about the rehab center is the constant monitoring of patients' progress. Each patient's blood pressure is checked after a round on a workout machine, and a biotelemetry unit can remotely monitor the heart activity of patients while they use the equipment. Moses and a nurse are nearby with life-saving equipment should it be needed.

"If you look at the cardiovascular risk in Southeastern Kentucky, it's the sensible thing to do," said Pharmacy Manager Kim Croley said of the program. "It's worthwhile for people to do this, especially after a heart event.

"A little bit of pain just shows that actually the heart is healing," she said.

Often, after a cardiac surgery, patients are afraid to physically exert themselves.

"It's fear," she said. "'What if I have another heart attack?' 'What if my stint breaks?'"

While recent surgery patients shouldn't exercise unsupervised or without a doctor's consent, the Knox County rehab program allows them to get back in shape while in a safe environment.

"When I walked in here, I was flabby," Dizney said while finishing up a workout Monday morning.

Now, his arms and legs are much stronger, and he doesn't plan to stop there. Dizney says he plans to join a local gym and keep up with his fitness routine after his rehab days are over.


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