Rehabilitation programme has its finger on the pulse


People in Barnsley with cardiac and pulmonary conditions are going from strength to strength thanks to the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation service, which is based at the Dorothy Hyman Sports Centre in Cudworth.

The aim of rehabilitation is to help a person to recover through exercise to get back to as full a life as possible. It also aims to help promote health and keep people well after they go home from hospital. The service provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitate patients by creating programmes which are unique to each individual and offer the necessary support for that person. The team includes nurses, physiotherapists, exercise instructors and administration. Cardiac rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and education for people with heart problems such as angina or those who have had a heart attack or heart failure. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and education for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic lung disease. For cardiac conditions people will attend twice a week for 12 weeks and pulmonary rehabilitation takes place twice a week for 8 weeks. Safety is paramount to the service and each person who is referred undergoes a medical and physical assessment before beginning a programme to check their suitability.

Education is an important part of the programme as staff are able to help a person understand what they can do to manage their condition in everyday life and what signs and symptoms they should look out for to spot a deterioration in their condition. Once they know what their limits are they can feel more confident in completing daily tasks and exercising within their own means. As well as providing education the team signpost people to other exercise facilities so that once the programme has ended they can continue to maintain exercise in their own time. The sessions show them what they are capable of doing and that they can still improve their health by taking exercise which is suitable to them.

People who attend the sessions benefit in a number of ways. Not only do they improve their overall quality of life and exercise tolerance, but many have improved confidence as they are reassured that they can exercise safely and take part in daily activities despite their condition. There is also the social aspect of attending the group and many are given the boost they need to get out of the house and back into the community again after a heart attack or a deterioration in their condition. Members of the group also motivate each other to carry on exercising and it has been known for people to buddy up and join gyms elsewhere once the programme has completed.

Jill Young, respiratory specialist and team leader, said, “Research shows exercise will help recovery and although people are initially worried about exercising staff are able to offer the support and reassurance they need. There are a number of psychological barriers that people break through first, but once they have built up their confidence they enjoy coming to sessions and are pleased that someone has shown them just what they can do rather than been told what they shouldn’t be doing. The educational talks we provide are just as important as the actual exercise and many people who attend say they are relieved when they are able to discuss topics such as smoking and stress and how they will impact upon their condition.”

The service accepts referrals from hospital staff, GPs, consultants, practice nurses, chest clinics and cardiology departments. If you want to find out if you meet the criteria contact your GP.

 Ernie’s story

While on holiday in Australia, Ernest Hopkinson suffered a heart attack and was required to undergo a coronary artery bypass graft. When he returned to the UK he was referred to the service.

Ernest attended rehabilitation sessions at the Dorothy Hyman Sports Centre in Cudworth, for three months and found they made a huge difference to his health and wellbeing. The intensity of exercise performed was measured against a scale known as the rate of perceived exertion and was maintained to a comfortable level throughout the three months. His heart was also monitored and a target heart rate established to work to during exercising. This was increased monthly. Other measures such as the distance covered or the amount of calories burned were also used as a good way of showing Ernie and other patients that they are improving each session.

Speaking about his time with the service Ernie said, “I can’t praise the cardiac rehab team enough for the work they did with me and the care they provide. Not only did they get me up and active again but they also got me out of the house and meeting new people. It was very reassuring for my wife to know there was such a caring service looking after me and helping me get back on track.”

Rehabilitation programme has its finger on the pulse

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