New virtual exercise program for Cystic Fibrosis patients

Adult CF physiotherapist K Burgess and Pharmacist, E Megram

Adult CF physiotherapist Kelly Burgess and Pharmacist, Emma Megram conducting a virtual exercise class for CF patients.

An innovative virtual exercise program is having great success with patients of The Prince Charles Hospital’s (TPCH) Adult Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Centre.

The program, established by the Adult CF Centre during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, allows patients to undertake a live group exercise workout in the comfort of their home, without the risk of cross-infection.

The weekly live group workout is run by Adult CF Centre physiotherapists and has received an overwhelming positive response from patients with around 70 per cent of TPCH’s CF patient cohort in the group, tuning in each week.

TPCH’s Adult CF Centre provides care to the most geographically dispersed CF population across Australia with patients living across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Northern New South Wales.

Adult CF Physiotherapist Kelly Burgess, who led the program, said that telehealth-based exercise classes enhances the accessibility of essential physical activity for all CF patients.

“Exercise supports stable respiratory function and survival in people with CF, by reducing the severity of symptoms, reducing the number of exacerbations and preventing hospital admissions,” Kelly said.

The Centre’s decision to change to a virtual model of exercise, was initially driven by the increased COVID-19 restrictions including the closure of gyms.

“At the height of restrictions, CF patients were unable to come to hospital for their outpatient appointments which meant the provision of face-to-face exercise sessions could not occur,” Kelly said.

“Virtual exercise classes can deliver supervised group exercise while reducing the problem of cross infection and the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

Members of the CF team also had the opportunity to be involved in the workouts as part of a multidisciplinary approach which meant patients were able to see staff practicing what they regularly endorsed as best care.