Published on November 09, 2022
Exercise is probably the last thing on mesothelioma patients’ minds. Most are elderly, and likely to have been sedentary before their diagnosis. Facing surgery, chemotherapy, and other interventions, the idea of lifting weights or increasing their physical activity may seem silly, unpleasant, or even impossible. But a recent study revealed that a carefully crafted program of isometric strength training and high-intensity interval training can improve functional mobility, reduce fatigue, and boost quality of life for patients with the rare, asbestos-related disease.
Mesothelioma Patient Chosen for Study of Exercise’s Impact
The mesothelioma and exercise study was written by Andrew Chongaway, a physical therapist specializing in oncologic rehabilitation at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan. Writing in the journal Cureus, he described his work with an 80-year-old male patient who had been admitted to an acute care community hospital due to loss of appetite and weight loss and demonstrating lower extremity weakness and fatigue.
Diagnosed with mesothelioma three years earlier, the patient had a significant medical history including hypertension, coronary artery disease, and stage III chronic kidney disease. He’d undergone pleurectomy and decortication and had recently been treated with maintenance chemotherapy. He told the physical therapist that he’d previously enjoyed walking and golfing, but weakness and fatigue had interfered. He expressed a desire to return to walking his dog and to regain confidence in his balance.
Physical Therapist Designs Individual Plan for Mesothelioma Patient
After an initial evaluation that included manual muscle testing and assessment of range of motion, gait, and more, Mr. Chongaway developed a personalized exercise plan for the mesothelioma patient. It included exercises that recruited the key muscles used during functional activities and multiple small walks. The patient was seen for four visits over seven days. As he gained strength, additional exercises and duration were added with an emphasis on education, efficiency, and safety.
By the time he was released, the mesothelioma patient had demonstrated improved functional mobility and safety. He was able to demonstrate independence and walk an additional 90 feet with no reported loss of balance with the use of a rolling walker. Importantly, he achieved a significant improvement in his quality of life, leading the researcher to conclude that precise exercise prescription including the use of high-intensity interval training and isometric strength training can yield significant benefits for patients.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, improving quality of life is a key goal. For more information and access to resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.
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Written by Terri Oppenheimer
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.
Learn more about and contact Terri