sundayherald April 21, 2008
SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH asthma could be taught a breathing technique used to help with symptoms of the condition after a trial in schools found it helped to reduce absence rates.
Jill McGowan, a practitioner of the technique known as Buteyko, introduced the method at two schools in West Dunbartonshire. It was found it helped improve pupils' attendance and cut down on the time spent having to leave class to use asthma inhalers.
The local authority is now considering rolling out lessons in the breathing exercises to other schools in the area, and a conference will take place tomorrow at Glasgow's SECC, at which professionals, teachers and pupils will share their experiences.
The Buteyko method, named after its creator, Ukrainian professor Konstantin Buteyko, teaches patients to breathe from the diaphragm and through the nose, instead of from the chest and through the mouth. While there is no evidence it can cure asthma, studies have shown it can help people to be more in control of their condition and less reliant on their medication.
McGowan, a trained nurse who has used the technique to help her own asthma, claimed it helped to increase pupils' concentration as well as reduce their asthma attacks.
She added: "One of the teachers compared the attendance of children who had been at the course for 2007-8 to the previous year and found it was up by one-third."
A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said that although there was no clinical evidence to show the technique made a difference, the schools involved had evidence it was helping pupils to manage their asthma better.
"St Columba's High School feel that the technique has been very successful for pupils who have been following this," she said.
"The head teacher has noted improved attendance of pupils involved, and pupils have less reason to be asking out of class to use, for example, asthma inhalers."
She added: "The plans for the roll-out to other schools in West Dunbartonshire will be addressed by a steering group."
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