New equipment helps cardiac and other therapy patients

By Anna Jauhola
Cardiac patients in and around Hallock haven’t had to go far for rehabilitation for many years, but a recent upgrade in equipment has made rehab that much easier.
Kittson Healthcare recently acquired two new pieces of equipment through a generous donation from the Kittson Memorial Foundation – a low-impact recumbent stationary bike and an up-to-date treadmill. The Foundation made the donation through funds raised at the annual Score Fore Golf Tournament.
“The bike is a wonderful addition because the other recumbent bike was falling apart,” said Joni Peterson, a registered nurse in the Kittson Healthcare cardiac rehab department. “This one has a swivel seat and is easier to get onto. The other option is the Schwinn Airdyne across the hall, but some people couldn’t get up on a high seat like that.”
The recumbent bike allows patients to be in a laid-back reclining position, which reduces stress on the joints and is easier for those with lower mobility. The seat is wider as well, allowing a more comfortable experience for larger patients, and the swivel seat provides for an easier transition onto the machine.
“On the old bike, people had to swing their leg over a tall barrier, which was difficult for some,” Peterson said. “This is so nice because it has actual footbeds on the pedals to keep the feet on there.”
Cardiac rehabilitation patients range from those who have had heart attacks to some types of heart failure, but also those who have had a stent placement, heart valve repair or replacement, and open-heart surgery. As with healthy patients, exercise benefits for cardiac patients include lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, and strengthens the heart muscle.
Although cardiac rehab is covered by most insurances, every insurance has different coverage programs.
“We encourage everyone to call their insurance before coming,” Peterson said.
Some insurances cover only 12 sessions, whereas Medicare usually covers 36, she added.
Some patients can be weak when they come in for rehab and at times, Peterson and her fellow rehab registered nurse Ruth Quanbeck have had to make different adjustments to help them use the equipment. At one point, Peterson held a patient’s feet on the pedals of the old bike.
“And therapy (nurses are) so grateful too because they use it for knees and other therapies,” Peterson said of the bike.
When they chose the new equipment, Peterson said nurses from occupational and physical therapy departments helped pick it out.
“Honestly, I would have gone for a cheaper model not knowing the benefits of this one,” Peterson said of the bike.
The new treadmill is top-of-the-line with a cushioned deck and a longer track.
The previous treadmill was having problems as it was a used model when the facility received it about 15 years ago.
It was time for an upgrade, Peterson said. It has various programs to challenge the user at appropriate levels.
When patients use either the bike or treadmill, they are hooked up to a heart monitor to keep track of heart rate and rhythm. Not only does this give patients peace of mind that their heart and body can handle exercise following a cardiac event or procedure, the hope is patients will continue exercising after rehab. The goal is to help patients modify their lifestyles in physical, emotional and nutritional aspects, including 30 minutes of exercise five to seven times a week.
“We try to instill the importance of a home exercise routine outside of here,” Peterson said of the cardiac rehab department.
While this program focuses on physically rehabilitating a person who has suffered a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, the nurses and staff hone in on the emotional, mental and nutritional aspects as well. They visit with patients on how they’re dealing with any mental and emotional stressors, such as lost wages, are affecting them. Patients have access to a nutritionist to discuss healthy eating habits. Peterson said it’s wonderful being able to provide a cardiac rehabilitation service in Hallock because the next closest programs are in Warren, Cavalier, Roseau and Thief River Falls.
After a patient completes a rehab program, Kittson Healthcare nurses will ask if they have physical activity planned, especially in the winter. Typically they’ll direct patients toward using a fitness center, such as Xperience in Hallock, using a bike or treadmill at home, or at the very least, walking outside.
“You’d hate to have them lose what they’ve gained,” Peterson said.

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