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Exercise programme is helping people with lung illnesses manage their condition

Becky Chapman, physiotherapist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, offers patients therapy as part of the community pulmonary rehabilitation service Picture: WEST SUFFOLK NHS TRUST

Becky Chapman, physiotherapist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, offers patients therapy as part of the community pulmonary rehabilitation service Picture: WEST SUFFOLK NHS TRUST

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An exercise and education programme is helping people living with lung conditions improve their physical and mental health.

Becky Chapman, physiotherapist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, offers patients therapy as part of the community pulmonary rehabilitation service Picture: WEST SUFFOLK NHS TRUSTBecky Chapman, physiotherapist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, offers patients therapy as part of the community pulmonary rehabilitation service Picture: WEST SUFFOLK NHS TRUST

The community pulmonary rehabilitation service, provided by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, sees a team of specialist physiotherapists and instructors help people with a long-term respiratory illness manage their condition.

The initial six-week exercise and education course brings such benefits to patients that some want to carry on, and community physio Becky Chapman delivers a follow-on group once-a-week in Bury St Edmunds.

Mrs Chapman said: “The initial exercise courses bring together groups of up to 16 people with varying lung conditions which can vary from those with mild lung symptoms to those with severe lung issues needing oxygen.

“As well as the exercise and advice, they gain valuable peer support and stimulation.

“We assess them at the start and end of the course, and it almost always shows their fitness and general ability to manage their lung condition has improved.”

Each follow-on group meets in Bury St Edmunds once-a-week on a Thursday, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, only breaking for two weeks in the summer and two weeks at Christmas.

Brian, who is 75 and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 16 years ago, followed the initial programme at West Suffolk Hospital and has been attending the community classes for more than a year.

He said: “I go every week and have only missed one, it helps me to keep active at home, and talking to people here makes you realise you are not the only one with the condition.”

Sue, who suffers from asthma, COPD, emphysema and is at risk of frequent chest infections, finds the classes very beneficial.

“I care for my husband, so I have to keep myself healthy,” she said. “This is a lovely bunch of people and Becky is fantastic – we have support and it’s a chance to socialise.”

John is one of two people in the weekly group who suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a severe condition where the lungs become scarred, for reasons that are unclear.

“The people are so nice, I can’t say enough about it,” he said. “The classes help to keep my spirits up and give me such massive pleasure.”

Anyone wishing to attend a group must have completed the initial six-week course, following referral from the hospital or their GP to the community pulmonary service.

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