The Importance of Rehabilitation

WRI Lab Highlight: The Importance of Rehabilitation

“Every hospital should be doing some sort of rehabilitation. It’s a community service and not a moneymaker, but it will become a standard of care”-Richard Novitch, MD


Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation is proud to support Dr. Richard Novitch, MD, of Burke Hospital in White Plains, NY. Novitch gave an enlightening interview on the importance of rehabilitation for patients with COPD and other lung diseases. In Phyllis Hanlon’s article, “Pulmonary Rehab: Extending Its Clinical Impact” published in the latest issue of RT for Decision Makers, Novitch discusses this importance of therapy regardless of a patient’s age. The quality of life and the reduction of it by lung diseases is an equally imperative factor among any patient. According to Novitch, “It’s a way to help people develop coping strategies with the limitations of life activities. Regardless of age and underlying diagnosis, the quality of life issues are the same."

Novitch is the pulmonary rehabilitation director and director of the pulmonary function laboratory and blood gas laboratory at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. Burke Hospital’s rehabilitation program works on a part-time basis and although a pulmonary rehab program is easy to operate, compensation for providers is minimal. Compared to the $60 per visit providers receive from patients in cardiac rehab programs, providers in pulmonary rehab programs receive a mere $36 per visit. These pulmonary rehab programs include exercising and chest physiotherapy, which consists of mechanical mucus expulsion and coughing techniques.

Burke Hospital has also been working with the Institute for Geriatric Psychiatry at Cornell for the past 12 years, researching the commonality of depression among patients with lung conditions. Novitch states in his interview, “One quarter of the patients we see have depression. We make sure the patient is treated and look at psychotherapeutic interventions." According to the article, Novitch also coauthored a study published in 2006 that reported approximately 30% of patients with COPD experience depression. Research showed that half of patients showed a 50% or greater reduction in depressive symptoms from therapeutic exercises. On this topic, Novitch states, “A lot of rehab programs have a ‘one and done’ mentality. COPD spans a continuum of care, including inpatient and outpatient, support, and a maintenance program. Training might be a good adjunct to get the patient to pursue exercise regularly."

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