Exercise therapy relieves pain and fatigue from peripheral artery disease
Physical exercise is good for our health. It’s well-established that exercise therapy is beneficial for treating and managing the symptoms of heart and vascular disease.
In 2018 Medicare approved coverage of structured exercise therapy to help people diagnosed with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a condition that limits blood flow to the legs and arms because of narrowed or blocked arteries. PAD can cause severe pain that can limit physical movement.
Tualatin resident Georgia Lambert, 74, finished a 12-week structured movement therapy program at Legacy Meridian Park cardiac therapy center to reduce painful PAD symptoms. "The exercise therapy really improved my quality of life," said Lambert. Leg pain and fatigue before therapy were so bad that she couldn't walk for more than a couple minutes without needing to stop and rest. "Now, I have fewer limitations and more freedom to do what I need to do and enjoy social activities that had become impossible because of pain."
Lambert’s movement therapy program was facilitated and monitored by a certified exercise therapist at the Meridian Park cardiac therapy center. As the therapy progressed, Georgia’s cardiovascular fitness improved, and her leg pain steadily decreased. When the exercise therapy treatments were done, Lambert’s peak performance—measured as walking speed and incline intensity— had improved by 59% from the start of her exercise treatment.
Taylor Kaelin, Georgia’s exercise therapist at Meridian Park, promotes movement therapy as medicine. She tells clients, "think of exercise like taking your daily medicine." It's a potent therapy that can improve health and mobility and reduce limiting health conditions like PAD. "My patients often come in skeptical that exercise can make any difference to their health, and they leave feeling better and knowing how much their function has improved with exercise therapy,” said Kaelin.
Cardiologist Ken Leclerc, M.D. oversees the cardiac therapy program at Meridian Park. He strongly believes it’s crucial to integrate structured exercise into a patient’s treatment plan because it helps people with cardiovascular and chronic health diseases reduce limiting symptoms and improve their health. "Structured exercise is powerful medicine for treating cardiovascular diseases like PAD," said Dr. Leclerc. “Frankly, exercise therapy should be a prescriptive approach to help people prevent or reduce chronic health conditions, especially high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.”
Leclerc takes his exercise as medicine. “I’m passionate about exercise and have been for 30 years,” said Dr. Leclerc. He does some type of exercise—walk, swim, weights or bike—six days a week. “I know exercise is key to living a good healthy life and it gives me the stamina to do what matters to me.”
Legacy Health offers PAD exercise therapy at the cardiac rehabilitation centers at Legacy Emanuel, Legacy Good Samaritan, Legacy Meridian Park, Legacy Mount Hood, Legacy Salmon Creek and Legacy Silverton. Click here to learn more about PAD therapy at www.legacyhealth.org.
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