Susan Lockwood

August 2018 was a pivotal point in Susan Lockwood’s life. She had just been diagnosed with familial idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or familial IPF. This is a condition in which scar tissue forms inside the lungs, slowing the flow of oxygen into the blood. The restricted flow impacts a patient’s ability to move and function. “Familial “means that the condition has affected other members of Susan’s family.

IPF affects less than 200,000 people annually in the U.S. and is considered a rare condition.

Pulmonary rehabilitation for IPF

Susan took a proactive approach to her diagnosis. She began a pulmonary rehabilitation program at SKY Rehab. Her goal was to increase her lung capacity and maintain her level of physical fitness. Her rehabilitation included stretching, yoga, utilizing therapy bands, and making herself aware of her breath. What she learned in therapy enabled her to maintain physical stamina and rid herself of a persistent, breath-catching hiccup.

One accomplishment stood above the rest for Susan: taking her grandchildren to Disney World. “Because of the work that I did with Shannon [Smith], my respiratory therapist, I was able to walk seven to ten miles daily for six days in a row,” Susan noted. “I rocked it because Shannon helped me to get my body Disney-ready!”

Getting the most out of pulmonary rehabilitation

In reflecting on her experience, Susan identified one key factor in her success. “You’ve got to want to learn!” Susan explained. “The therapists are knowledgeable, they know about the disease, and if you don’t implement what they teach you, I don’t think you’ll benefit and move forward.”

That approach paid off for Susan.

“She’s awesome!” said Shannon said of Susan. “She’s the textbook example of getting the most out of therapy sessions and how successful you can be when you follow the program!”

A life-changing recovery

How successful has Susan’s rehabilitation been? Susan has progressed so well, she was removed from the transplant list at Vanderbilt.

Dr. Wade Brown, Susan’s pulmonologist, told her to continue to stay active and follow her therapist’s instructions. And should she need to be placed back on the transplant list down the road, he would have no reservations, regardless of her age.

Susan isn’t allowing her condition to slow her down. She continues to walk three to five miles per day. We at SKY are proud of Susan and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of her journey with familial IPF.