Sufferers of long Covid often experience persistent breathlessness and fatigue resulting from weakened respiratory muscles. Researchers from Swansea University School of Sport and Exercise Sciences are testing whether an eight-week breathing training programme, carried out at home, could help to rehabilitate sufferers of long Covid. The Greatest Need Fund has enabled these vital trials to continue, funding the costs of continuing to post the required devices to the study participants.
Sufferers of long Covid experience continued shortness of breath, sometimes for many months, which causes tiredness and difficulties with the basic tasks of daily living. While most ongoing clinical trials concentrate on improving survival, this is only the first step on a long road back to health. Focus on rehabilitation for those that have survived is scarce. There is an urgent need for safe and effective home-based treatments that help people recover quickly and fully.
Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) strengthens the respiratory muscles through restricted airflow breathing using a small handheld device that gives regular feedback to the user. IMT has been shown to improve a variety of health conditions, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but more research is needed into the role of IMT for sufferers of COVID-19.
This project will use IMT to treat and monitor patients at home, studying whether people get less breathless, stronger, fitter, move around more and, importantly, whether they feel better about their health and well-being. The volunteers get regular feedback on how they are doing and plenty of motivation to keep going!
The initial findings are extremely promising, having the potential to have a direct and immediate impact on individual health and well-being, including reduced suffering and premature mortality, as well as reducing the burden on healthcare services in both the short and long-term.
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