"AS Course - a must for anyone with Ankylosing..."

About: Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust

I have just completed my third two week residential AS course, one every three years, since being referred to the RNHRD's Rheumatology department and I would recommend their services unreservedly. The physiotherapists are responsible for the majority of the exercise sessions and most of the education but other professionals are also involved and there are weekly appointments with the consultant and their team. My personal highlight is daily hydro in their pool, but there are also exercises and stretches on dry land to help you improve your BASMI measurements and score. Every element of the course is carefully planned, from the initial letter, a phone call the week before you go, practical accommodation, superb hot meal at lunchtime, a great team including the physios and their assistants, doctors, nurses, receptionists, caterers, cleaners, porters. There were seven of us on my course all with different backgrounds and AS journeys and symptoms. The reason I asked to return on this occasion was to focus on me, "a system reboot" to remind myself of what I should be doing as well as reminding myself of the information so that I remain in control of my condition and continue to live with AS rather than it dictating my life. I also achieved my personal goal of halving my score over the duration of the course. The physiotherapists are all incredibly knowledgeable and give their time and expertise to help patients to take ownership and understand their condition. Two weeks residential stay is a big ask if you are a busy person with work, family, life etc but I would strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to help yourself, learn about your condition from the experts, stretch and exercise. When I next find myself on a downwards spiral I will certainly be asking to return. I have been so impressed that I have transferred all of my care to consultant and their team and know that they will do the best for me. I bounced out of the hospital today with the skills and knowledge to continue my AS journey and hopefully maintain my score and would encourage all AS patients to access this fantastic opportunity.

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