Tulsa Exercise Physiologist Invents Tool To Help Patients

Friday, February 28th 2020, 8:43 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa exercise physiologist has helped put Ascension St. John in Tulsa on the map in a special way.

St. John is the only aquatic cardiac rehab program in Oklahoma with live heart monitoring because Joanna Hughes went to Academy, bought some supplies, and made her own waterproof heart monitor case.  

Bruce Bradley had a stroke two years ago leaving him very little mobility on the left side of his body.
But that's not why he's in cardiac rehab.

"I went and had a heart cath, and I had a blockage of 99% which was pretty close to a heart attack," said Bradley. 

Doctors put two stints in his heart, and now Bruce has spent the last three months swimming laps at St. John, having his heart monitored every second. That's only because Bruce's exercise physiologist, Joanna Hughes, got a little creative.

"These aren't waterproof, so we came up with the idea. My husband is a fisherman and has boxes like this all the time. I said 'what if we went to Academy and got some of these boxes, and we just kind of fabricated it to fit the monitor.' Then we could get patients in the pool that can't do typical land therapy, or in Bruce's case like to swim" Joanna said. 

Joanna's invention allows their program to do live monitoring of patients in the water. And this is one of the only in the country that can do this. 

"Now that Bruce is in the water, the box is just going to float beside him as he swims his laps," said Hughes.

And he swims better with one arm than many can with two. 

"It's a safety net," Bruce said. "I was a decent swimmer before I had my stroke. It is nice. It is such freedom."

Bruce just finished up his 36 rehab sessions and said things are looking good.

Dr. Heather Cha, a cardiologist at St. John said cardiac rehab helps patients mentally and physically.

"To be able to get him in a body of water, I think, is something he really enjoys and probably thought he couldn't do in the future." Dr. Cha said. "It's people like Joanna, It's having staff like her, who are genuine, invested, innovative, proactive who cares for her patients; that's what makes this team and this program stand out."

Joanna said she is working on a patent for her invention. She hopes it can help other patients across the state and country. 

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