Bates County Memorial Hospital Reminds Those with COPD to Save Their Breath

BUTLER, MO – When most people say they are “breathing easier,” they mean a problem has been removed, or a challenge has been overcome. For people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases, simply breathing is the problem.

Emphysema and chronic Bronchitis are two of the most common conditions that contribute to COPD, which causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. COPD is treatable and maintainable. While medication is one management tool, many people with COPD see improvement with Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) will not cure lung disease or completely relieve symptoms, but it can improve quality of life and reduce breathing problems.

“The goal of pulmonary rehab is to gain strength and knowledge,” says Marci Denning, Certified Respiratory Therapist and part of the Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab team at Bates County Memorial Hospital.

Kathy Bunch of Butler uses the seated elliptical during a Pulmonary Rehabilitation session at Bates County Memorial Hospital with Respiratory Therapist Marci Denning.

While monitored, mild exercise plays a critical role in pulmonary rehab. Most programs also include counseling and instruction that targets the patient’s daily routine. This counseling includes training for conserving energy and breathing techniques. Those in Pulmonary Rehabilitation will be taught to pace themselves, use pursed-lip breathing, and gain an emotional outlook.

Pace Yourself

“One way we teach our patients to conserve energy is through pacing skills,” Marci Denning explains. Marci Denning teaches her patients to:

  • Perform the hard tasks first
  • Save simple tasks for last
  • Take frequent breaks

Pursed-Lip Breathing

Patients in PR also learn new techniques to improve breathing. A common technique is called Pursed-Lip breathing. The National Lung, Heart and Blood Institute describes the technique as “breathing in through your nostrils, and – then – slowly breathing out through slightly pursed lips, as if you are blowing out a candle.”

Emotional Outlook

People living with COPD often struggle with their emotions, and according to the American Lung Association, depression and anxiety are not uncommon. Most PR programs address these needs through counseling, or referring patients to counseling services.


If you are living with COPD, talk to your healthcare provider about participating in pulmonary rehabilitation. To learn more about the Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Bates County Memorial Hospital, contact Marci Denning at 660-200-7128.

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