MORE than 150 people with potentially disabling breathing problems have been helped by an exercise programme.
The patients were suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, (COPD), which causes coughing, breathlessness and increased risk of chest infections.
They have benefited from a pulmonary rehabilitation programme launched last year by West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group.
The programme combines exercise with educational sessions to help patients manage their condition and reduce breathlessness.
Users have included Colin Brown, 64, of Downham, who has suffered from asthma all his life and was diagnosed with COPD about a year ago. He had also suffered a bout of pneumonia and said: “I was struggling really.”
Since taking part in the programme, he has been able to reduce his medication and said: “I would definitely recommend it. I feel a lot better about myself.”
The wife of another user said: “Not only has my husband found, after many years, that walking can be pleasant but he coughs less and is much more cheerful.”
Mr Brown said he still does exercises from the programme on a regular basis.
“You have to be motivated enough to continue the exercises at home. I have an exercise bike in the garage and my daughter has a treadmill which I also use. I also walk into town which is a 45-minute round trip,” he said.
Mr Brown took part in the six-week programme at Downham Leisure Centre. Classes are also held at centres in Lynn, Swaffham and Hunstanton. They are run by a physiotherapist, a COPD nurse and a technical instructor.
The commissioning group’s interim chief executive, Sue Crossman, said: “An active course of pulmonary rehabilitation can have a very positive impact on levels of breathlessness and quality of life for patients.”
New patients are welcome to join the programme and are advised to ask for a referral from a doctor or nurse at their GP surgery.