Charity funded dialysis bikes mean patients can work out during treatment

A kidney patient says Sheffield Hospitals Charity funded exercise bikes have given him the work out motivation boost he needs during treatment.

Geoff Cooke, aged 67, from Sheffield undergoes dialysis three times a week in Heeley after being diagnosed with kidney disease three years ago.

The specialist satellite unit’s been kitted out with two of the innovative static cycles, which doctors say can boost recovery as well as breaking the tedium of treatment.

Geoff said: “What started as several weeks of diarrhoea and a simple urine test at my local GP, ended in me being rushed to hospital by ambulance and an immediate period of dialysis.

“Three years on, I visit the unit three mornings a week for almost five hours of dialysis. Until the bikes arrived, most of that time was spent watching television. I’ve never been one for exercise, as I simply haven’t had the energy to following my diagnosis. Even washing the car leaves me feeling really tired and I can’t do things like walking for as long as I used to.

“But the bikes are helping to change my mind, motivating me to do more and even transfer that motivation to when I’m at home. My dialysis appointments are all early morning and there’s very little on TV at that time, so it helps to break up the monotony of it all. The exercise has helped to lower my blood pressure as well.”

Health specialists hope the bikes will not only beat boredom and improve overall fitness- they also say they could actually help patients get better.

Research shows that exercise during dialysis can boost oxygen levels, muscle strength, mental health and sleep, whilst lowering anxiety and blood pressure.

But some studies have also proven that exercise can actually lead to more efficient dialysis by increasing blood flow which enables the removal of more toxins.

Specialist physiotherapist Sarah Gilbert has reviewed research like this and built it into her role at the Sheffield’s satellite unit in Heeley.

Sarah said: “Sheffield Hospitals Charity has funded two bikes for a year, allowing us to trial their effectiveness. Exercise is beneficial for everyone, regardless of any underlying health condition, but we know that dialysis patients are often more fatigued, so having the chance to carry out exercise whilst undergoing dialysis saves them time on their non-dialysis days.”

“The machines are designed to fit around the couches and can be adjusted for patient comfort. There is a feedback screen including a countdown clock so the patients can monitor their progress, further boosting their motivation.

“I hope that in the future we can fund more bikes and staff so that more patients, not just at Heeley, at all the other dialysis units in the Sheffield region can exercise on dialysis.”

Sheffield Hospitals Charity’s appeal raised £25,000 for the bikes. To donate to enhancing the care of patients receiving care for kidney disease, visit www.sheffieldhosptialscharity.org.uk