An innovative program at the LHSC is encouraging transplant patients to exercise online.
The TONE program (Transplant ONline Exercise) motivates patients who are waiting at home for their transplant to exercise via Skype two or three times each week.
Patients are provided a loaned iPad so they can easily connect with their physiotherapist.
“The fitter transplant patients are before surgery, the better the outcomes tend to be,” says Nancy Howes, a Multi-Organ Transplant Program (MOTP) physiotherapist for 20 years.
LHSC offers daily exercise classes in the transplant unit for patients waiting for their surgery, but Howes and her colleague Tracy Fuller found that when patients went home to continue waiting for surgery, their motivation to continue exercising waned.
“What we were finding was that while we can teach them the importance of exercise and send them home with a copy of the program, once they left our site their ability to maintain an exercise program deteriorated,” Howes says.
Recognizing that technology was readily available to many of their patients, Howes developed the TONE program to provide ‘tele-rehabilitation.’
Howes tells AM980 the one-on-one interaction is a great motivator.
“It makes most patients feel better to know that they’re doing the stuff right, but they also can potentially progress their exercise program because we’re watching them daily. It’s hard to give a person all that advice about how to do it now, how to progress it in the future in the short bit of time that we have with them in the hospital.”
TONE program participants are expressing enthusiasm on their progress, exercising several days a week and reporting improved tolerance and progression. Howes says that she and her colleagues will begin to study the specific health benefits of those who participate against those who don’t.
This program is a first of its kind for transplant centres in Canada.