scientists from the University of Leicester, funded by Kidney Research UK and with the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, are working towards understanding which exercise methods will best help those with kidney disease
Dr Alice Smith and a team of doctors, psychologists, and physiotherapists, based at the General Hospital, Leicester, aim to determine how exercise can be used to help kidney patients maximise their health, quality of life and, independence.
A total of 4,000 patients in the Leicester region currently suffer from early stage kidney disease. It is common for these patients to die from heart disease, rather than kidney disease, partly due to inactivity and muscle wasting. The research team have already recorded the attitudes to exercise in 2,000 kidney patients from across the country to understand their exercise habits. Dr Smith said: 'Those with kidney disease don’t know if the general advice around exercise applies to them and whether they should exercise or not as a kidney patient.'
Amy Clarke, a Researcher in Health and Behavior Psychologist in the team, said: 'This large survey has given us a picture of how kidney patients behave. The main questions they asked included: Is exercise safe for me? Will it benefit me? Could it make my condition worse? There are also the emotions of having an illness, such as kidney disease, where patients want to know if they can get back to the activities they used to do before diagnosis.'
Dr Smith continued: 'Having collated the patient perceptions on their exercise, we are now taking the project forward to start to produce a programme to help kidney patients become more active in their daily lives. This is a new kind of concept and consists of talking to patients, members of staff, and an expert panel to get a consensus about the programme, and then testing it in practice. It also aims to understand which type of exercise, such as walking or swimming, can be embedded into patient's lifestyles rather than relying on supervised gym sessions which are not sustainable and often doesn’t fit into patients’ lives easily.'
The project has already developed a self-directed exercise programme to help patients with kidney disease to be more active on an individual basis. The SPARK, Self-management Programme to Increase Health through Physical Activity in Chronic Kidney Disease programme is currently undergoing further revision based on patient feedback already received. A further programme is also being developed which patients will attend in groups to discuss the role of exercise in their lives and help them to formulate a plan and put it into practice. The team are also recruiting patients from Nottingham to broaden and expand the study.
Suzanne Baines, Major Gifts Officer of Kidney Research UK said: 'With over three million people at risk of chronic kidney disease, we are very grateful for the generous donation that the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have given to support this important and groundbreaking research project which has the potential to benefit patients across the country.'
RW Bro David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, said: 'The Freemasons are extremely pleased and proud to have been able to support this vital research which affects so many people in the local community.'