Abstract 15022: Cardiac Rehabilitation as a Platform to Provide Oncology Rehabilitation
Introduction: Exercise is a proven strategy to improve the health and quality of life of cancer survivors. Presently systems are not in place to provide exercise and rehabilitation to the large number of cancer patients. We propose that the cardiac rehabilitation model of chronic disease management can serve as a platform for developing oncology rehabilitation.
Methods: The University of Vermont Oncology Rehabilitation Program began August 2011 as a pilot program for breast cancer survivors and was made available for all survivors January 2012. The program utilizes a cardiac rehabilitation facility. Cancer survivors enter the program during or after initial cancer therapy. Similar to cardiac rehabilitation participants receive an initial evaluation with a physician and exercise tolerance testing. Supervised aerobic and resistance training is provided twice weekly for 12-weeks. On site education sessions focus on nutrition, weight control and stress management. Modifications to a traditional cardiac rehabilitation framework include: use of certified personal trainers to monitor exercise and a baseline physical therapy (PT) assessment. If needed, resistance training is modified for lymphedema or range of motion deficits.
Results: Between January 2012 and February 2013, 172 cancer survivors were evaluated, with 76% entering the program .The primary reason for not starting was job/travel (32%). Seven were excluded because of cardiac or pulmonary issues. Of the 130 individuals who initiated the program 101(78%) completed a 12-week program. Completers attended an average of 18 out of 24 exercise sessions. Reimbursement for services was achieved for physician visits, PT evaluations and exercise tolerance tests. The personal trainers and education sessions are supported by private donations.
Conclusion: An oncology rehabilitation program for cancer survivors can be successfully provided using an existing cardiac rehabilitation infrastructure with minor modification. We propose this as an effective model for community-based rehabilitation for cancer survivors. Further study is needed to determine improvement in performance and cost-effectiveness of oncology rehabilitation and its impact on long-term outcomes.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.