Avera Medical Minute: No longer limited thanks to portable oxygen machine

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 9:40 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Taking a trip to the grocery store or even walking around your house seems pretty second nature, but for some people, those tasks can take some extra effort.

One man now finds it easier to do many of those everyday activities, thanks to a portable oxygen concentrator.

Four years ago, 70-year-old Kenny Blake was diagnosed with COPD.

“It’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Blake.

“Lungs are an elastic tissue that opens and closes like a balloon does, and when that elastic tissue gets damaged, the airways and the air sacs get floppy. They don’t transport oxygen very well, and then patients deal with cough, shortness of breath, mucus production,” said Anthony Hericks, a pulmonologist with Avera Medical Group.

That means Kenny has to be on oxygen nearly 24/7.

“By wearing oxygen, it may actually improve your exercise tolerance and how you feel,” said Hericks.

He has a stationary concentrator he uses for oxygen at his house, but outside of the home, he was limited.

“A year ago or so approximately, we were using tanks — the big green tanks is what I had,” said Blake. “It is difficult. When I was going to the grocery store or any place, I had to have that tank, and in and out of the car, going to the grandchildren’s ball games, I carried the tanks.”

But nowadays, he’s getting around much easier. That’s because he is able to use this portable oxygen concentrator.

“When I got the portable, it was just a game changer for me,” said Blake.

Amy Powers is a medical equipment clinician with Avera and visits Kenny every couple months to work with him on his equipment and to see how he is doing.

“I actually started working with Kenny about three years ago, and we’ve always had a great relationship. He’s really easy to work with. He’s very dedicated to his therapies,” said Amy Powers, Avera Home Medical Equipment clinician.

It was her idea to have him use this lightweight machine.

“We were talking about his upcoming trip they were heading out west for, and what that would look like as far as carrying tanks, and how that would even work, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking this would be awesome if we could get him on a portable oxygen concentrator,” said Powers.

A trip he says may not have been possible without a more convenient option.

“My oldest granddaughter graduated from high school out in Wyoming, so then we got done with Wyoming, and then we went to Yellowstone and the Tetons and all that, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that with the tanks. That’s the bottom line,” said Blake.

“He’s really determined to do whatever it takes to make sure that he is in tip-top shape to maintain a quality of life with his oxygen and all of his machines,” said Powers.

A trip to remember and more memories to make thanks to this device.

“That was a game changer for me. I couldn’t have done that before,” said Blake.

Not every patient who is on oxygen can use a portable oxygen machine. Powers says that is because sometimes their need for oxygen is too great. Avera Home Medical is available to help answer questions and assess your needs.

For more on this story, visit avera.org/medicalminute.