Eastern Minnesota

Rehabilitation puts a young athlete back in the game

The 2011 W-K Falcons’ football game against the Edison Tommies will not be one that W-K High School junior Jethro Roemer will soon forget.

During a first-quarter offensive play, Jethro was stopped abruptly by three defenders in a tackle that would sideline him for the rest of the season.

“I wasn’t in much pain, but I could tell something didn’t feel right,” Roemer remembers. His trainers immediately applied ice to his knee and recommended rest. Days later, an orthopedic specialist confirmed Jethro had a torn ACL.

Ten days after the football game, Jethro had surgery. About a week after surgery, he began intensive physical therapy with Marlene Kosobucki, physical therapist at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center. Jethro and Marlene developed an aggressive rehab plan that included outpatient sessions and lots of homework. Daily stretching, therapy and exercises targeted his knee and leg so he could progress along the healing continuum. The first phase of recovery included gentle stretching to improve his range of motion.

With each goal achieved during recovery, Jethro improved his range of motion, regained balance, increased strength and finally built endurance. “We never want to rush the therapy process,” said Kosobucki. “When the pain begins to subside and patients start feeling better, they tend to overdo it. A tissue graft takes a long time to heal so we must proceed with caution. By protecting the graft, joints and muscles, we prevent re-injury. Jethro did not begin weight-bearing exercises or active conditioning for 6 weeks after surgery.”

A three-sport athlete, Jethro was the perfect patient. He followed his therapist’s orders – never missed a session; never skipped his homework; and always pushed himself to do more. From the beginning of his rehab, Jethro made great strides. According to his doctor, Jethro healed well ahead of schedule.

“I was determined to get better as fast as possible, and I did whatever it took,” Jethro said. “Every week I noticed improvements. Marlene understood the positions I played in sports. She was a great coach and teacher; she cheered me on and explained everything.”

During Jethro’s rehab, Marlene used exercise drills that mimicked the typical movements of his specific sports. As he performed each of them, she observed his techniques and movements to make sure he was using proper body mechanics. According to Marlene, there is a fine line between not pushing enough and pushing too hard.

Marlene and her colleagues at Saint Elizabeth’s guide and educate patients recovering from sprains, fractures, torn ligaments and other conditions caused by high-impact sports or illness.

“We see a lot of shoulder, knee and back injuries,” said Kosobucki. “Physical therapists employ a variety of techniques, therapies and exercises to help their patients achieve their desired performance so they can return to the field, court or track. It’s rewarding to watch healing in action. Most athletes are extremely dedicated to recovery and want to be back in the game. Jethro was no exception!” Marlene Kosobucki, physical therapist, guided Jethro through a rehabilitation plan that helped him regain full function of his knee and return to sports.

“Be Aware for Safe Care” and “Acute Stroke Readiness Collaborative” keep you safer

You can be sure that the staff of Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center is looking out for your safety. The “Be Aware for Safe Care” program encourages improved safety in the health care setting.

This annual education and awareness campaign is designed to draw attention to the important role everyone plays in ensuring health care safety. This year’s theme: “Be Aware for Safe Care” focuses on the need for everyone to understand and recognize the range of efforts being made to improve safety in all health care settings.

“Be Aware for Safe Care” is an opportunity to promote Saint Elizabeth’s commitment to safety,” explained Tracy Henn, PharmD, director of Saint Elizabeth’s safety and quality program. “Every department specifies safety goals and an action plan to address concerns, promote a safe environment, and improve systems and processes for improving and enhancing the safety of patients, residents, visitors and staff.”

The campaign seeks to make everyone aware of local efforts and to encourage partnerships to improve patient safety. While efforts of the past decade have brought improvements, recent studies indicate that much work remains to be done—and can be done most effectively through the involvement of all parties.

“Be Aware for Safe Care is a timely opportunity to promote Saint Elizabeth’s commitment to safety,” explains Henn. “Saint Elizabeth’s currently participates in state-wide safety projects that focus on reducing falls, preventing infections, and promoting safe surgeries.”

One example of a safety project that impacts patients is Saint Elizabeth’s participation in the Minnesota Stroke Partnership’s (MSP) Acute Stroke Readiness Collaborative. The mission of MSP is to raise awareness of stroke, promote stroke prevention, and improve systems of stroke care throughout Minnesota.

Last summer of 2011, Saint Elizabeth’s began efforts to evaluate and improve how it works with emergency medical services and other first responders to assess, treat and transfer acute stroke patients for optimal care and recovery. The project improves community awareness of stroke symptoms, uses a standardized stroke scale for early diagnosis, follows specific protocol to confirm stroke and type, and initiates a coordinated and timely approach for treatment, management, transfer and communication.

“Our participation in this collaborative offers extensive educational resources and networking opportunities for our providers and staff,” adds Tracy. “Although we have a strong stroke response program in place, we can build upon this foundation and broaden our focus to improve outcomes. We are committed to evaluating our current stroke processes so we are doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of patients.”

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps patients breathe easier

Diane Lawson’s family history may influence her destiny, but her determination fuels her fight. Her frequent visits to Saint Elizabeth’s Wellness Center validate her resolve.

Since she was young, Diane struggled with shortness of breath. “I thought I had allergies,” she said. “I didn’t have enough air to run or blow up a balloon, and I got lots of colds. I just thought it was normal.”

Diane was born with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). It is a genetic condition that attacks the lungs and sometimes the liver of patients who don’t have enough alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) protein. As lung tissue deteriorates, it often leads to emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Alpha-1 is passed down by parents who are either carriers or have been diagnosed with Alpha-1 themselves. According to the Alpha-1 Foundation, about 100,000 Americans have Alpha-1, but fewer than 10 percent have been diagnosed.

It wasn’t until her brother’s diagnosis of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) that things made sense.

Because Alpha-1 is hereditary, family members were encouraged to get tested. Testing confirmed that Diane’s parents were carriers and so was her sister. At first hesitant, Diane finally agreed to be tested at the urging of her sister. A positive result confirmed what Diane suspected. She finally knew the reason for all her symptoms – shortness of breath, chronic cough, frequent colds, and year-round allergies.

Since her diagnosis, Diane has been receiving ongoing medical care from Mayo Clinic. In 2000, she began receiving enzyme replacement therapy. Saint Elizabeth’s Home Health Care nurses administer IV infusions every 2 weeks in Diane’s home. The drug increases the concentration of the AAT protein in her blood and lungs.

“I know the IVs are making a difference,” she adds, “so is the oxygen I use when I sleep and exercise.” But equally important to the successful management of this chronic disease, was her participation in pulmonary rehabilitation.

Diane’s proactive attitude has slowed the progression of the disease. Her enrollment in Saint Elizabeth’s pulmonary rehabilitation program and her bi-weekly IV infusion enzyme replacement therapy, which increases the concentration of the AAT protein in her blood and lungs, has given her the additional “weapons” she needs to combat the disease.

Diane’s admission into Saint Elizabeth’s pulmonary rehabilitation was not typical. When her husband, Gary, was referred to Saint Elizabeth’s Wellness Center, he learned that a companion could exercise with him. He extended the invitation to Diane and she accepted. Although not a formal patient at the time, she was still required to complete a medical / family history and health assessment.

“It is our policy to collect and review the health information of everyone who uses the Wellness Center,” explained Carla Theusch, MS, director of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. “As I began reviewing Diane’s history, I realized she had risk factors we couldn’t ignore. I suggested that she consider a personalized and structured program of exercise, education and support that would provide additional information and tools to help her live better with Alpha-1. All she needed was a physician’s referral and we were ready to begin.”

Carla, along with Tanya Jumbeck, RN, developed a treatment plan that included a series of progressive cardio and strengthening exercises and an educational curriculum that addressed breathing techniques, oxygen monitoring, medications and side effects, nutrition and meal planning, and other relevant topics.

With guidance from the staff, Diane routinely spends a good hour rotating her exercise regime between the treadmill, stationary and arm bikes, elliptical machines and weight stations. While the progression of her disease is not retreating, it is slowing down. She has more energy and endurance, and generally feels better.

“At first I couldn’t exercise for very long without getting winded,” Diane shares. “Now my stamina has improved and I’m feeling much stronger. The teaching that Carla and Tanya did was helpful too. They kept it simple and didn’t use big words. I’ve learned about pursed breathing [deep breathing from the diaphragm] and why I should eat smaller meals more often throughout the day.” It’s also their encouragement and coaching that keeps Diane motivated to return. Even though she has completed formal rehab, she returns 4 days a week for the maintenance program. “This program keeps me active so I can enjoy the things I like to do,” Diane said.

Although Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center’s pulmonary rehabilitation program can’t cure lung diseases, participants often notice improved breathing, decreased symptoms, the ability to function better, an increased ability to exercise, and better management of anxiety and depression.

To learn more, contact Saint Elizabeth’s Wellness Center at 651.565.5519.

Wabasha Riverboat Days

5K & 10K River Run
Free – Kids’ Half-Mile FUN Run & 5K Fitness Walk
Saturday, July 28
5K and 10K Walk Start Time: 8 a.m. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m.
Kids’ Run Start Time: 9 a.m. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
Run Registration Fee: $12
Optional T-shirt: $8
Walkers are FREE!
Pre-register by July 20 to be eligible for a prize drawing!

  • $50 gift certificate to Running Room, Rochester
  • National Eagle Center passes – four-pack

The course will consist of city streets, including scenic Lawrence Blvd. along the Mississippi River. Refreshments will be provided after the race.

Sponsors include: Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Anytime Fitness with support from Scheel’s SuperValu, Eagle’s Nest Coffee Shop, and Kwik Trip.
For information, call 651.565.5596 or email jenny.schlagenhaft@ministryhealth.org

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