Pulmonary Wellness Foundation Offers Free Interactive Webinars With Experts on Respiratory Health Topics

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by Mary Chapman |

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The newly founded Pulmonary Wellness Foundation recently launched its interactive online 2020 Lecture Series, covering an array of topics related to respiratory health for patients, caregivers, family members, and clinicians.

The free webinars are presented at 7 p.m. EST every Wednesday by the nonprofit and its founder, cardiopulmonary physical therapist and author Noah Greenspan. The 2,000-member foundation was launched last year to serve as a comprehensive and advanced wellness hub for the respiratory disease community.

Part of the foundation’s mission, the lecture series is aimed at those living with diseases such as pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and non-tuberculosis mycobacteria lung disease.

“People need education and often don’t get it,” Greenspan said in a telephone interview with BioNews, which publishes this website. “We live in a very fast-paced medical society that is 90% medication- and procedure-oriented. But when it comes to living well with a respiratory disease or in general, there are things people can do every day to improve the quality of life.”

The author of “Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness,” and founder of the New York-based Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, Greenspan categorizes pulmonary wellness into medical, pulmonary exercise, nutrition, stress and anxiety management, and infection prevention.

“Nearly all of these things are free and right in front of you,” he said. “What happens a lot when people are diagnosed with a chronic illness is that they become a black-and-white monochromatic version of themselves. Everything in their lives becomes part of the disease. My goal is to let people know there are things they can do.”

The webinars were initially introduced in 2013 (archives are available here). The new and improved iteration, however, uses a Zoom platform that allows up to 500 people in the “room” simultaneously. The format allows participants to see each other, if they wish, and to question presenters.

“We are trying to create a space where patients can learn and interact on a variety of topics,” said Marcella Debidda, PhD, the foundation’s chief patient officer. “People have the opportunity to ask questions of experts and be empowered. Knowledge empowers people.”

Fifteen minutes before each 1.5-hour lecture, the sounds of guitarist, singer, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patient and advocate Donnie Vapor fill the airwaves. Greenspan calls the performances the series’ warmup act.

So far, webinars are scheduled through March. All sessions will be recorded and posted on the foundation’s website. Go here to register for the live presentations, which require downloading the Zoom app.

The next webinar on Jan. 29 is titled “Things that Make You Go Hmmm … Pulmonary Edition!” and will be presented by respiratory therapist Mark Mangus.

Other topics to be covered in the lecture series include breathing techniques, keeping the lungs clear, preventing infections and exacerbations, interstitial lung disease, lung transplants, palliative care, exercise in health and disease, healing Tai Chi and qigong, endobronchial valves, pulmonary hypertension, and the foundation’s Bootcamp — an online pulmonary wellness program that includes exercises, inspirational messages, and seminars.

In addition to Greenspan, Mangus, and Debidda, speakers include Eugene Shostak, MD, and Robert Kaner, MD, Weill Cornell Medical Center; Marion Mackles, physical therapist; Donna Frownfelter, Rosalind Franklin University; Steven Nathan, MD, Inova Fairfax Hospital; Kathleen Lindell, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Donna Wilson, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Brian Trzaskos, Institute of Rehabilitative Qigong and Tai Chi; and Hooman Poor, MD, and Maria Padilla, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“People parrot the same material without having an understanding of it,” said Greenspan, who was profiled in a feature story last year in BioNews. “They need to hear from people who practice it. And we’re always trying to get the top expert in every field who can talk about all the things that people need to know when living with a pulmonary disease.”

Fewer brick-and-mortar pulmonary care centers exist, Greenspan said. Because of that, many patients don’t have access to programs that can give them the information they need to live well. That’s where the webinar comes in.

“We want to guide people through this minefield of healthcare,” said Greenspan, whose ongoing clinical research includes the safety and efficacy of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation in PH. “The worst thing you can do is take away hope. But in the same way people can spiral downhill by doing bad things, by doing good things, they can spiral uphill.”