Fitness professionals work with NHS on COVID-19 rehab programme for patients who have been on ventilators
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Fitness professionals work with NHS on COVID-19 rehab programme for patients who have been on ventilators

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Les Mills
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We've been privileged to be a part of the development of a vital new service
– Steve Ward

Exercise is being used to bring patients who've been seriously ill with COVID-19 back to health.

The initiative was established by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and is available solely to patients who've been ventilated.

Set up in partnership with The Royal Gwent Hospital’s (RGH) Respiratory Team, the programme is being delivered by the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales – a venue operated by Newport Live, the trust responsible for facilities on behalf of the council.

The initiative was set up after RGH's respiratory team identified the need for post-ventilated patients to have dedicated rehabilitation to aid physical and mental recovery.

Dr Martha Scott, clinical director for respiratory services was instrumental in establishing the project – alongside lead clinician, Dr Sara Fairbairn.

"This is the first bespoke post COVID-19 programme offered in Wales. We're pleased to be able to offer this collaborative post-COVID-19 rehabilitation programme for those who've experienced critical illness, due to COVID-19," Scott said.

The programme consists of 90-minute sessions, which include activities such as treadmills, indoor cycling, boxing and pilates.

The velodrome and the sessions are operated in compliance with infection prevention and social distancing measures.

“We're privileged to be part of the development of this vital new service, and are proud to be able to support this pilot," said Steve Ward, CEO of Newport Live. "It's the first of its kind in the UK and we wish everyone well with their ongoing recovery.”

Facilities at the velodrome include an indoor cycling studio fitted with Tomahawk IC7 bikes, a fully-equipped gym floor, a group exercise studio and a free weights area,

As well as the exercise sessions, the programme brings together a range of specialist services – from respiratory, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dietetics and psychology services.

The programme runs over eight-weeks and involves a total of 40 patients, all of whom have been identified by the multi-disciplinary team assessment as benefitting from specialist input.

Scott Howell, the Royal Gwent Hospital’s first COVID-19 patient, who spent eight weeks in hospital, is one of the people taking part in the programme.

He said: “When I was told about this service I thought it was amazing. You don’t expect the NHS to provide such brilliant support as they already do enough, but I think this will help lots of people who've been in Intensive Care.”

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Exercise is being used to bring patients who've been seriously ill with COVID-19 back to health.

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Les Mills