Following the success of its first Breathe Freely programme for COPD and lung fibrosis sufferers, the Galway Chest Clinic has announced that it will run another programme in January 2013. The programme is designed to improve the quality of life for people with chronic lung diseases, many of whom suffer from considerable shortness of breath when carrying out simple daily tasks despite maximum medical therapy. The British and Irish Thoracic Societies have stated that all patients with lung diseases whose lifestyle is adversely affected by chronic breathlessness would benefit from such a course.
“Chronic lung disease is the third most commonly reported long term illness,” said Dr Hilary McLoughlin, the director of the Galway Chest Clinic. “This course is modelled on the national COPD rehabilitation programme which aims to address the inequity in COPD service across the country. Not everybody who needs help and support is getting it because of long waiting lists in the HSE.
“Many people with lung diseases are more short of breath than they need to be because they have become unfit due to inactivity,” Dr McLoughlin added. “Repeated illnesses and hospital admissions reduce their fitness even more. They are afraid to exercise, and many people lack motivation, which is understandable. Those people with COPD, and emphysema in particular, who think they are too short of breath for this course, are the people who would probably benefit most. I set up this course because my own patients were having difficulty accessing existing pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.”
This course will commence on January 15 and will involve an eight-week programme of education and supervised exercise training. Participants will meet with the Galway Chest Clinic chartered physiotherapist, Ruth Sharif, and Hugh O’Neill, the clinic’s designated sports trainer, twice weekly for eight weeks. Sessions will last two hours and will start with an hour-long talk by experts on topics such as nutrition, managing disability, anxiety management, motivation, and maximising health potential. For those who need it, help with quitting cigarettes will be available. Patients in wheelchairs and those on home oxygen can also be accommodated. Following light refreshments, participants will spend an hour in a private gym area working through a gentle tailor-made exercise session.
“The autumn Breathe Freely course went very well,” said Ruth Sharif. “Those who participated had improved exercise tolerance, reduced anxiety levels, and greatly improved perception of their own health according to the data we collected. We have given them the tools to better cope with their illnesses and some are keen to participate in our follow-on maintenance programme.”
People interested in attending this course should contact Dr McLoughlin’s secretary, AnneMarie Boyle, at the Galway Chest Clinic on 091 759949. The Breathe Freely programme takes place at the Kingfisher NUI gym. Facilities are wheelchair accessible.