A lecturer in physiotherapy at University of Limerick has been recognised for an innovative singing and breathing retraining programme for people with chronic lung disease.

Dr Róisín Cahalan, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, School of Allied Health, was the proud recipient of an Irish Healthcare Centre Award (IHCA) for her project ‘SingStrong’, at a ceremony held at the Royal Marine Hotel, Malahide.

The IHCA recognise excellence and innovation in clinical healthcare initiatives across a host of categories.

SingStrong was shortlisted in two of these categories: Healthcare Initiative: Patient Education / Lifestyle Project of The Year, and Healthcare Initiative: Older Persons Care Services, in which it was successful.

SingStrong was founded in 2019 by Róisín and Limerick community musician, Ms Ciara Meade. It is a singing and breathing retraining programme for people with chronic lung disease, based on Róisín’s clinical work and teaching experience in Respiratory Physiotherapy.

It was initially funded by an Irish Research Council grant to explore the feasibility of the project in the Mid-West Region, but has since grown to a nationwide programme, supporting hundreds of members all over Ireland.

During the COVID pandemic, SingStrong moved online and became an important social and rehabilitation outlet for members.

The project works predominantly with people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but has also provided specialised classes for people with other respiratory conditions including Long COVID and Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Currently the project runs several weekly online classes as well as in-person sessions in Limerick, Ennis, Tallaght, and Wexford. The project also partners with numerous patient advocacy groups including COPD Support Ireland and the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association and has attracted funding from various sources including Rethink Ireland and Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund.

This is not the first acknowledgement of the SingStrong project. In 2021, Róisín was named as one of Health Professional News’s Top 100 healthcare practitioners, in recognition of her work on the project.

Róisín said the award was “a lovely recognition of the work that Ciara and I have done over the years. It is also a fantastic endorsement of the project that it is recognised and acknowledged as a clinically valuable intervention, that has real impact for people with chronic respiratory disease”.

SingStrong is available to anyone with a chronic respiratory disease and patients can self-refer or be referred by their clinician. For more details, contact [email protected] or [email protected].

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