By FRED PETRUCELLI

SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN

Ah, rehabilitation. That priceless time that holds out promise to rejuvenate and make us whole again in the aftermath of woeful adversity. 

Rehabilitation, then, is not only critical but also essential if the afflicted hopes to find life abiding, especially for the guy and gal who have struggled with cardiac despair.

Fortunately for scores of people, there are facilities in these precincts that give hope to such renewal, one in particular being the Personal Training Studio located at the intersection of Donaghey and College streets. In this environment, Cliff Wekken and his staff of trainers are at work helping members seek cardiovascular relief and fitness by virtue of a plan of action using an array of devices tailored specifically for heart patients. 

Cardiac problems are problematic, to say the least, requiring precise apparatus and precise attention to connect with the diseases of the heart and to try to beat the odds on the back of rehabilitation. It is a vexatious journey but one well worth the effort. 

Anyone who has traveled that road knows that the time beyond surgery is burdensome, demanding patience, self-control and a singleness of purpose. It is in this milieu that the patient must find the inner strength to make the most of rehabilitation. For many, actual surgery is more tolerable than the demands of rehab.  

Here is where the  personal trainer makes his presence felt, being almost inclined, as is the patient, to find success and health in an exercise and fitness program, while assuaging feelings or fear and anxiety that are often rampant with heart patients.        

The needs of these patients call for a lifestyle modification program. Only rehabilitation can bring this about.

“We’re in the business of improving muscular strength, flexibility and balance,” Wekken said. “And our studio offers one-to-one attention, structured and monitored exercise and privacy which is essential for some people.

“It has been particularly rewarding to hear our members encourage others to try the strength training equipment and give testament to how they have personally increased muscular strength during the past month. I remember being blown away by the culture at our phase II cardiac rehab program, and I believe that our members have successfully re-created that in the studio as well. I would be hard pressed to imagine a more encouraging atmosphere.”

This facility, which carries the label of Phase 3 in the rehab environment of Conway Regional Medical Center, gives its clients measurements on heart rates, oxygen saturation, blood pressure readings and educational opportunities.

This training studio is home to standard cardiovascular  equipment plus an array of vital strength training accessories including exercise balls, rubber bands that offer several kinds of strength invoking methods, dual-seated leg extension/leg curl work, seated rowing and free weights.

Wekken said his staff has at minimum a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and certification from premier industry groups on fitness such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Individuals at an exercise drill in the studio are, to a man and woman, completely satisfied with the effort. They feel safe in their workouts. They’ve gone through all kinds of heart problems. In fact, one woman, Martha Matthews, who has had more than her share of woes, is proud of being the 1,000th patient of the celebrated heart doctor, E. J. Chauvin, who specializes in open-heart surgery.

Allan Victory of Vilonia, who had heart by-pass surgery and was at work on a recumbent bicycle, is pleased with his progress.
“I’m coming along pretty good. I’d never made it so far without this exercise,” he suggested, while Charlene Burns of Conway, who was a hospital rehab patient for about a year, finds the studio to her liking, saying “This is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”  

She banks on a pacemaker and stents. 

From Samuel Bunting of Conway comes the assertion that working out at the studio is beneficial. 

“I work on most of the machines, and I think it’s helped me greatly,” Bunting said. “I had quadruple by-pass surgery about five years ago and I’ve been working on getting better through exercise. I feel better now after an hour and a half of exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the time the studio is open for us.” 

The studio is open in the afternoon and evening for individuals who have contracted with personal trainers.

Obviously, the medical center leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to provide rehabilitation to all heart patients or clients. 

“Our medically supervised, comprehensive program helps people recover from their heart condition and helps them move on to improve their quality of life,” said Lance Bryant, director of the regional fitness center. “The goal of rehab is to help individuals increase strength and endurance and improve their lives so they can enjoy many more active years.”

In a three pronged cardiac rehab program that begins in the hospital, the patient gets acquainted with the heart’s function, diet and limited exercise. After discharge, which is dictated by doctor’s orders, most patients enter another phase where they are introduced to various pieces of exercise equipment, a walking track, a pool and a number of specific kinds of activity in a huge fitness center on Salem Road.   

Hundreds of people are working out in the Salem fitness center regarded as one of the best. Many are on hand when the doors of the facility opens at 5 a.m. to begin work on several exercise contrivances. 

Phase 3 allows patients to continue to build strength and endurance on a more independent basis, managing their overall heart health. 

Patients are observed working out but they are no longer connected with telemetry monitoring. 

Phase 3 assists individuals as they learn how to manage their overall heart health.