Patients take part in video to promote life changing treatment

Filming at the Eltham Leisure Centre
Filming at the Eltham Leisure Centre

A group of Oxleas patients were so impressed with the trust’s pulmonary rehabilitation course that they volunteered to take part in a promotional video about it.

The video Pulmonary Rehabilitation (opens in a new window) - which has just been added to the trust’s website - describes a seven week exercise programme for people who have a chronic lung condition such as emphysema or bronchitis.

The patients taking part in the film have an inspirational story to tell. Before starting the classes they had difficulty with breathing, some could hardly walk. Afterwards, all had seen dramatic improvements in both their health and quality of life.

The classes are run by the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Team, part of Oxleas’ Greenwich Community Health Services. Pulmonary Rehabilitation Lead Helen Jefford says: “It’s so important that people know that COPD is a treatable condition. By showing what happens at the classes, we hope the video will encourage people with COPD to come along and give them a try. Patients can take classes in a choice of venues, including the Waterfront Leisure Centre in Woolwich, the Eltham Centre (in Eltham) and the Arches Leisure Centre in Greenwich. We also periodically offer ‘floating rehabilitation’ which is when we visit GP surgeries.”

Helen’s team includes physiotherapists, nurses and a rehabilitation assistant. Classes consist of gentle exercises, some using gym equipment such as treadmills or bikes and include education sessions that teach patients how best to manage their condition.

During a pause in filming in January this year, the patients were keen to talk about the huge difference the classes have made to their lives.

Zack is a former patient who helps at classes as a volunteer. A picture of fitness now, it’s hard to believe that three years ago things were very different. He says: “I couldn’t breathe or talk at the time, but the exercise classes made me feel young again. I can now do so many things like swimming, walking and using the gym. The best thing I ever did in my life was marry my wife. The second best was coming to these classes.”

Martin says that he found the prospect of the classes frightening at first: “I had very limited mobility and got out of breath at the slightest exertion. I was scared I was going to get into difficulties but when I got to the class the staff looked after me and made me feel safe. I feel much better in myself and it’s given me lots of confidence. My social life has also improved as I’m no longer afraid to go out and can drive again which has given me my independence back.”

For Marion, who like Zack is now a volunteer, the main lesson is that gentle exercise won’t kill you if you have COPD and that it is actually good for you: “I used to love visiting Greenwich Park with my grandchildren but became scared about becoming ill while we were out. I could have ended up in a wheelchair, but the classes meant I was able to achieve my goal of going back to the park with them - without worrying - and we all had a lovely day.”

Pulmonary rehabilitation classes are run twice a week at the Waterfront and Eltham leisure centres. People who are interested in attending should ask their GP or practice nurse for more information.

Published on 1st March 2012