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New lease of life for patients thanks to Kidney Beam

29 November 2023

A kidney patient from Preston has found a new lease of life after joining Kidney Beam, the interactive exercise and lifestyle management app supported by Kidney Research UK since its inception. Designed to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of kidney patients, the app offers on demand and live exercises and the chance to connect with fellow patients.

Edmund England’s kidneys failed five years ago after he received treatment for prostate cancer. Whilst his cancer treatment was successful, doctors found the 78-year-old’s kidney function had fallen to just 7%, which could have been the result of the cancer or the treatment.

Kidney Beam study

Edmund’s consultants believed that, particularly as he already had mobility issues, he would benefit from a tailored online exercise programme run through a platform called Kidney Beam, and they offered him an opportunity to participate in a study being conducted by researchers at King’s College Hospital in London.

The team at King’s College Hospital worked with Beam (a digital exercise, education and well-being platform for people with chronic health conditions) to launch the kidney specific programme when it became clear that kidney patients weren’t going to be able to access physiotherapy appointments during the Covid-19 lockdown. With the study funded by national charity Kidney Research UK and supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, Kidney Beam has since gained 3,000 users as kidney patients and their healthcare teams have recognised the long-term advantages of accessing the specialist classes.

“I was pretty immobile before I started the course, I think the most exercise I got was going down the stairs and I rarely go out,” Edmund recalls. “Being on your own as you get older, you’re less likely to exercise and you just get stuck in a rut. So being able to exercise from the comfort of your living room while sitting down is quite incredible. After I got over the initial aches and pains, I started to feel like I could do more. I can feel my body getting stronger and my breathing has become much easier.”

Bald man, with gasses and pink beard
Edmund England

Physical and mental health improvement

Edmund has been on the course for 18 months and has already seen a marked difference in his physical and mental health. He has enjoyed the increased mobility and strength he’s gained from the programme.

Edmund knows that he may eventually need dialysis treatment if his kidney disease worsens. Being more physically fit and more mentally prepared should help him to cope with this. Facing the prospect of life-limiting treatments has been daunting, but Edmund has found solace in the friendships he’s made while exercising.

“Living with a chronic condition can be a very lonely place,” he explained. “You don’t really know what’s around the corner. When I log on to do my exercises, I’m met with so many lovely people who are all passionate about improving their lives and their company is something that helps me get through it."

Edmund continued: “I cannot describe the impact it’s had on my mental health; we’ve even set up a WhatsApp group to discuss everything from our condition to baking recipes and even the weather. I am heading for dialysis which is daunting, but I have people on Kidney Beam who reassure me and that makes it a lot less scary. The exercise is amazing, and finding a community of people has completely changed my life.”

Edmund’s daughter Corinne couldn’t agree more. “My dad’s definitely changed as a result of using Kidney Beam,” she said. “Before he started doing the exercises he didn’t really like going out anywhere or getting involved in anything. The classes have helped him come out of his shell and it’s given him a more positive outlook on everything. He’s enjoying exercise – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so motivated before. It’s improved his mental wellbeing and his physical wellbeing. He’s really looking after himself so much better and looks forward to his sessions. I’m really pleased he’s got Kidney Beam in his life.”

A laptop open showing the Kidney Beam website homepage
Kidney Beam digital health programme

Study results

Patients enrolled on the Beam exercise classes have been part of a nationwide study we have funded, looking into the effectiveness of the programme on the physical and mental health of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.

Research just published in The Lancet Digital Health by Dr Sharlene Greenwood, Consultant Physiotherapist at King’s College Hospital, has shown that patients who used the Kidney Beam exercise and lifestyle management app had improvements in mental health, the ability to self-manage their condition, and physical function when compared to patients who did not access Kidney Beam.

Patients like Edmund are a testament to the programme’s success. The research team are determined not only to continue the project but to create new content that will appeal to a variety of patients.

Kidney Beam currently operates in partnership with Kidney Research UK, the National Kidney Federation, the UK Kidney Association, the Irish Kidney Association and several NHS England Renal Clinical Networks.

Find out more about the results from the Kidney Beam research study.

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