News | December 14, 2009

Heart Hospital Honored for Innovative Rehabilitation Program

A cardiac patient and firefighter undergoes a personalized, real-life rehabilitation excise carrying hose up stairs.

December 14, 2009 – For its unique Return to Work Lab, which focuses on individualized rehabilitation for younger, more active cardiac patients, the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital in north Texas recently received an award.

The Innovation Award, given by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), acknowledges programs that enhance the delivery of care for a patient population in a unique and creative way, beyond the traditional model of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation.

“We realize that a traditional cardiac rehabilitation program of moderate exercises on the treadmill and light weights may work for some patients,” said Danielle Strauss, RN, program manager. “However, our industrial athletes – individuals who perform strenuous activities throughout the day – require a more intense level of training to prepare them to return to physically demanding jobs, such as firefighting and police work.”

The goal of the Return to Work Lab, a program funded by the Harry S. Moss Heart Fund at the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, is to create specialized programs for industrial athletes to ensure they are safe and healthy when they return to their jobs and active lifestyles.

“We are seeing younger and younger cardiac patients at the Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, and many of these patients opt out of rehab because they don’t think it will adequately meet their goals,” said hospital president Nancy Vish, RN, Ph.D. “Failure to participate in rehabilitation training increases the likelihood that they will experience another cardiac event when they return to work.”

Return to Work Lab staff members assess the activities patients perform in their daily lives and design programs to appropriately increase their heart rate and MET levels so they can return to their active lifestyles. The program features specialized equipment, such as training dummies, boxing gloves, fire hoses and an indoor training golf net that enables rehabilitation activities to closely mimic the patient’s daily tasks. For example, rehabilitation for a firefighter might include simulation of pulling a person out of a burning building while rehabilitation for a police officer might include training to chase an assailant on the run.

“Our arsenal of resources coupled with our creative staff members help us meet the specific needs of each patient, no matter what their activity level,” said Strauss.

For more information: www.baylorhealth.edu

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