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Long Covid treatment programme hits the right note

22 Aug 2022 3 minute read
Patients participating in the Long Covid programme. Photo Cardiff and Vale Health Board

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board UHB says it is seeing promising results from a long Covid pilot treatment programme which is delivered in conjunction with Welsh National Opera (WNO).

During the online sessions WNO vocal specialists teach breathing and diaphragmatic techniques to help with breathlessness, anxiety and other long-term effects of the virus.

So far, results of the six-week online course have been described as “encouraging” with patients reporting an improvement with their symptoms.

Singing classes are also being considered as a way of treating other long-term illnesses and relieve stress and anxiety .

Thirty-one people took part in four separate Wellness with WNO courses between November 2021 and February 2022 with 94% of participants reported the breathing techniques were effective.

One of those was Bethan Godfrey, from Cardiff, who has been experiencing symptoms of long COVID since she first caught the virus in December 2020.

“My symptoms included high temperature, breathlessness, fatigue, loss of sense of smell, palpitations, pins and needles, concentration problems and brain fog,” said Bethan, who still experiences some of the symptoms.

“As soon as I started WNO’s course I noticed a difference from the first week,” said Bethan. “I wasn’t as out of breath as I usually was.

“Talking would leave me trying to catch my breath but now I’m a lot more conscious of my breathing which helps.

“Most people enjoy singing and it uplifts you and actually noticing that you are getting better and that your breathing is improving helps to lift you and increases your endorphins and makes you feel better. It has been lifechanging.”

Rachel Wallbank, Allied Health Professional Clinical Lead Therapist at Cardiff and Vale UHB said: “I think there is a long history of singing being used to promote health in social contact, health in terms of breath health, lung health and a means to support stress relief and it brings people sheer joy when they participate in singing.

“It’s hard to be sad when you’re singing, it helps with stress management and just a positive way to bring about rehabilitation.

“The evidence from patients who have completed the course has been really positive.

“Patients have enjoyed it and have enjoyed meeting other people who have experienced similar symptoms to themselves and similar experiences living with long COVID.”

The pilot programme is currently being offered across Cardiff and Vale, Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Betsi Cadwaladr health boards.

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