AS Information Day - Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases

Another successful Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Information Day!

19 September 2019

BIRDs recent information day for people with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) held at The Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institute was again packed this year with in excess of 70 people.

Feedback included: ‘The morning talks [with] Dr Sengupta and Prof Marchesi were fantastic. Really Informative’

‘I enjoyed all of the day, it was interesting and informative’

The day was very well received by the attendees, with an outstanding 98% rating the day excellent or good overall!

Dr Raj Sengupta, a consultant at the RNHRD opened the session with a detailed overview of AS, medications and explained the umbrella term ‘Axial SpA’ under which Ankylosing Spondylitis sits along with Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.  Just before lunch, Professor Julian Marchesi gave an immensely popular presentation on the role of gut health and the microbiome on inflammatory diseases – still an emerging but very exciting research area.

Specialist AS Team Physiotherapist, Emily Clark emphasised the many positive benefits of exercise towards Cardio-vascular Disease, Osteoporosis and Diabetes, anxiety and depression and how it can help to improve pain, stiffness, sleep and fatigue.  Emily talked about considering exercise ‘as a medicine’ as it is shown to improve spinal movement and physical function and can provide an opportunity for socialising and peer support. She also sited some examples for balance and strengthening exercises such as Tai-chi, Pilates (standing Pilates), Yoga, Dancing and Gym-ball exercises, and suggested some great tips for adding as many opportunities for stretching in your every day as you can such as touching the tops of door frames as you walk through, stretching or standing on one leg while waiting for the kettle to boil.

It is recognised that the impact of a chronic condition such as AS can have a large impact on emotional wellbeing.  This year we invited Clinical Psychologist Andrea Hirons, to talk about understanding and managing the emotional impact of AS and Laura O-Shea to let people know about the free support service for people with long term health conditions who would like support with their wellbeing on offer from both B&NES Talking Therapies and Wiltshire IAPT Service.

During the afternoon session there was an update on The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) activities by Sally Dickinson, Head of Information and Support Services, who also gave the audience a preview of one of their new exercise videos. More details here: and Bath University researcher Rosie Barnett talked about  ‘Project Nightingale’, a useful new app that helps people to record and self-manage their symptoms

Nikki Fulstow, Research Nurse at the RNHRD explained why research is important and the various ways people can get involved.  She also listed many of the active studies and engagement activities currently running and as a result had a number of people enquire and sign up for various projects after her talk.  NHS Choices website: also provide generic information about what taking part in a clinical trial entails.


To register your interest for the next AS information day, please click here!