Why Cardiac Rehab is So Vital to Recovery

Media Resources

Bob Hallinan

Executive Producer

Office: (913) 588-7284

Cell: (913)-481-7329



             Along with Valentine’s Day, February marks American Heart Month. This year, doctors want to emphasize the importance of cardiac rehab in the recovery process, and how a lot of the road back to wellness is in the hands of the patient.

            A perfect example of this is Larry Baca, who has had multiple sclerosis since he was in his 20’s. Now decades later, he’s a successful accountant, who works from his wheelchair in a downtown firm.

A few years ago, Larry suffered a heart attack, and needed several weeks to recover. Part of the recovery included physical therapy, but because of his wheelchair, he couldn’t find a program that could accommodate him. Then his wife called the cardiac rehab center at The University of Kansas Health System’s Center for Advanced Heart Care. Eric Larson, the program manager, told him to come on in and they’d find a way to help. Eric was able to jury-rig a device to one of the exercise machines that helped keep Larry’s legs in place while he worked out.

A local group called Golfology fore Cardiology heard about Larry’s situation. Through a fundraising golf tournament, they were able to donate the thousands of dollars needed to buy a special exercise machine, specifically designed to help patients like Larry keep their legs in synch with the machine during the workout. Thanks to his three times a week rehab sessions, Larry is feeling like new, and has even been able to get back to doing what he loves…skiing in Colorado thanks to a special adaptor for his wheelchair.

In the video, Dr. Andrew Sauer, MD, medical director of heart transplant and the advanced heart failure program at The University of Kansas Health System explains how the cardiologist can only do so much, and how a successful recovery depands so much on following a rehab program.

Larry describes his heart attack and his struggle to find a therapy program, and how he was able to thrive at the KU Health System program. He talks about the new machine, and demonstrates it. He also praises the Golfology group for their generosity and explains how he’s now able to resume skiing. He shares video and a still photo from a recent ski trip.

Eric Larson, manager of cardiopulmonary rehab at The University of Kansas Health System’s Center for Advanced Heart Care, describes the challenge of helping Larry, and what a difference having the specialized exercise machine has made. He also talks about why cardiac rehab    is so vital to recovery for a heart patient, and how the machine has helped two other patients with MS. And he describes how exciting it was for the staff to see Larry’s video after the ski trip.

The video includes shots of Larry working out as Eric supervises as well as video and stills from the ski trip.