Presence Saint Joseph Hospital, Elgin
Playful Tunes Help Ease Breathing for COPD Patients at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital - Elgin

PSJHE_COPD_Recorder_Therapy_1_8_2016As you walk toward the pulmonary rehabilitation class at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital – Elgin you’ll hear a familiar tune. Participants in the class are playing the three notes of “Hot Cross Buns” on recorders as part of a unique music therapy program for patients with chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases.

COPD causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Simple activities, such as walking or taking stairs, can be a chore for many patients as breathing becomes very difficult. Colleen Grabowski Coordinator of Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Coordinator of Pulmonary Function at Presence Saint Joseph, explains that playing a wind instrument, like a recorder, strengthens upper respiratory muscles and helps control their breathing through diaphragmatic breathing, or breathing with the belly.

“It strengthens the diaphragm and the patient uses only one muscle. Which in turn uses less energy," said Grabowski.

The technique for playing a wind instrument is so similar to an exercise for COPD called pursed-lip breathing that the group adopted the name “Pursed-Lip Breathers”. The group meets twice a week to practice and learn new songs.

For Joseph Petrella, of West Dundee, music therapy is motivational.  “The last few years I’ve really been going downhill. I know unless I push myself, I’m going to get worse. Music therapy is a unique way to push me. It forces me to use a different form of breathing,” said Petrella.

The music and traditional therapy is working for Janet Jones, of Hampshire. Function tests show that her oxygen level has stabilized and her stamina has increased two-fold since she joined the pulmonary rehab program.

“I love it here! Before joining this program, just taking a deep breath would reduce me to a coughing fit. I could barely go up and down stairs. Now I feel great,” said Jones. 

Jones had never played an instrument before, but she laughs as she says she puts on concerts twice a week at home. That laughter is significant. COPD is a debilitating disease that can cause significant depression. Grabowski says music therapy can help lift spirits.

“We don’t care what we sound like, just that we play the recorders and have a great time,” said Grabowski.  “It’s something patients look forward to doing.”  

COPD is a major cause of disability and is the third leading cause of death in the United States. There is no cure for the disease. However, rehabilitation and lifestyle changes that can help keep patients active can help slow the progress of the disease.

For more information about the Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital – Elgin, please call 877.737.4636.

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About Presence Saint Joseph Hospital - Elgin
Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin is known for providing leading-edge technologies and holistic care with compassion for the individual. We offer a comprehensive range of high quality preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services including acute inpatient care, outpatient care, home health, and educational outreach programs. Recognized for advanced heart, orthopedics, stroke, cancer and rehabilitation services; Presence Saint Joseph is a part of Presence Health.

About Presence Health
Presence Health is the largest Catholic health system based in Illinois. With more than 150 sites of care, including 12 hospitals, Presence Health has more than 20,000 employees, 4,000 medical professionals and a revenue base of $2.5 billion.

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