This singing program teaches “Covid long” patients to breathe

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Across the Channel, an opera house has launched a singing program for patients recovering from the disease induced by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This personalized six-week program helps these patients breathe easier.

Teaching patients to breathe

Some Covid-19 patients have returned to normal health within a few weeks. Others, on the other hand, are plagued by problems persisting for several months after they heal or to damage that can lead to other health problems to come. In September 2020, St James’s Hospital in Dublin (Ireland), for example, conducted a study on persistent fatigue affecting some patients for months after their recovery. This is called the “long Covid”, the medium and long term consequences of which remain little known.

In order to prevent and counter the effects of the long Covid, the English National Opera in London (United Kingdom) offers personalized singing lessons, whose objective is to help patients during their convalescence. Baptized ENO Breathe, this program was developed by the Imperial College NHS Trust. Patients work on their posture, perform breathing exercises, warm up their voices and make their facial muscles work.

Obviously, the sessions are not done in person, but through Zoom, the videophone application. Vocals, usually training singers from the Royal Academy of Music in particular, provide these courses online. For those in charge of the project, the aim is to help patients use their lung capacity in the best way, an ability sometimes damaged by the coronavirus. The program also helps them learn how to better manage their anxiety. “If you experience a moment of severe shortness of breath along with anxiety, there are exercises you can do to help slow down and regulate your breathing and give your brain a chance to recover.”, Explains Suzi Zumpe, director of the project.

Credit: English National Opera

A study is being prepared

The idea of ​​the ENO Breathe program germinated in the summer of 2020 when the first cases of long Covid appeared. Remember that in addition to chronic fatigue, this disease can cause serious chest pain and shortness of breath. Jenny Mollica, head of the English National Opera, thought her institution could help.

Take the case of 56-year-old Cameron. The man takes singing lessons prescribed by his doctor as part of his convalescence. Having contracted the coronavirus in March 2020, he had unfortunately developed an acute form of the disease characterized by the appearance of blood clots and breathing problems. According to him, the ENO Breathe program is a big help, both physically and mentally.

Today, the program covers other post-Covid clinics in the UK. The English National Opera ultimately wants to follow about a thousand patients. A randomized study is being prepared with the aim of measure the effects of this therapy by singing.

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