English National Opera singers are helping 'long Covid' patients breathe
Posted January 28, 2021 9:53 a.m. EST
CNN — The English National Opera (ENO) is rolling out its singing, breathing and wellbeing program for recovering coronavirus patients around the country following a successful trial.
ENO Breathe is a joint project between the ENO and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, combining musical and medical expertise to help Covid-19 patients suffering with long-term symptoms, according to a press release published Thursday.
Some coronavirus patients are back to normal health within weeks. But for others, issues persist for months or cause damage that might lead to other health issues in the future. This is known as "long Covid."
The program -- described as the first of its kind -- uses singing techniques to help patients who are experiencing breathlessness and anxiety.
An initial six week trial involved 12 participants, and the program will now benefit up to 1,000 patients at more than 25 participating healthcare centers across England, in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Cheshire and Merseyside in the next few months.
Participants reported "positive impacts for them both emotionally and physically," said the press release.
"It has really aided me enormously with my breathlessness and also my anxiety a little around re-integrating myself back into society," a patient named Richard is quoted as saying in the press release.
The program involves weekly online group sessions, plus digital resources designed to help participants focus on their breathing.
Singing practice uses traditional lullabies, which are designed to calm people down. Participants are taught breathing and singing exercises by professional specialists, and encouraged to practice in their own time using online resources.
"We are hugely proud to be able to roll out ENO Breathe nationally, enabling us to support many more patients in their recovery from Covid and journey back to wellness," said Jenny Mollica, director of ENO Baylis.
Dr Sarah Elkin, a consultant in respiratory medicine at Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "Ongoing breathlessness is debilitating and can be frightening. We hope this program will support people to improve and help reduce their symptoms."
Participants in the trial ranged from early 30s to early 70s in terms of age and were racially diverse, the release said.
All of the participants said they would keep using their breathing exercises after the trial finished, and all said they would "definitely recommend" the program to other "long Covid" patients, the release added.
Older people, women and those with a wide range of symptoms in the first week of their illness appear to be most likely to develop "long Covid," according to a preprint paper posted online by researchers at King's College London in October.
The paper defines "long Covid" as having symptoms persist for more than four weeks, while a short duration of Covid was defined as less than 10 days, without a subsequent relapse.
The UK continues to record thousands of new coronavirus cases per day, and on Tuesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that more than 100,000 people had died.