Author Interviews, Frailty, Heart Disease / 23.07.2018 Interview with: Rakesh Arora MD PhD Department of Surgery, Max Rady College of Medicine University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada Cardiac Sciences Program St Boniface Hospital Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is increasingly understood that patients with heart disease are getting older and sicker. In Canada, over 5.7 million people are estimated to be aged over 65 years and as a result a greater number of older adults often complex other health issues are now require cardiac procedures.  This places some patients, particular those who are more frail at a higher vulnerability to poorer postoperative outcomes and a complicated recovery process after cardiac surgery.  In addition, such patients experience a reduced quality of life as a result of loss of the ability to independently perform activities of daily living (i.e. as cooking, cleaning, bathing activities, toileting etc). During the preoperative waiting period, the cardiac symptoms and anxiety induces inactivity that in turn compounds the physical and mental deconditioning. In order to improve the functional capacity and enhance postoperative recovery, prehabilitation (“prehab”), a component of the Enhanced Recovery Protocols (ERPs), may be of particular importance. Prehabilitation (a.k.a. “prehab”) has been described as a preoperative cardiac rehabilitation intervention, a combination of exercise training, education, and social support, affecting patients’ physical and psychological readiness for surgery with the overarching goal to reduce postoperative complications and hospital length of stay as well as ideally improving the transition from the hospital to the community.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke, Technology / 14.02.2018 Interview with E. Paul Zehr PhD Professor & Director Centre for Biomedical Research, Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, McKinnon Division of Medical Sciences Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)| Affiliate, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, UBC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For many years we explored the role of the spinal cord in regulating rhythmic arm and leg movements like we do during walking, running and swimming.  Although we humans tend to move and locomote around on our two legs as bipeds, we are basically quadrupeds in terms of how our nervous system controls our limbs during walking. We have an extensive network of brain and spinal cord connections that help coordinate our limbs while we move. A lot of our work showed that using the arms rhythmically, like during arm cycling, strongly affected the activity of the spinal cord controlling leg muscles. Getting the spinal cord for leg muscles more coordinated and activated is a major goal of rehabilitation  of walking after neurotrauma so we wanted to see if training the arms could help with this. This is particularly important because a lot of the time, the arms are not engaged at all in rehabilitation training for the legs. We found that after only 5 weeks of arm cycling (3 x 30 minutes each week), neural excitability, strength, and leg function were increased along with enhanced clinical tests of balance and walking ability. (more…)
Author Interviews, Primary Care, Pulmonary Disease / 15.12.2017 Interview with: Dr Jennifer K Quint MSc PhD FHEA FRCP Clinical Senior Lecturer Respiratory Epidemiology Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health National Heart and Lung Institute Imperial College London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We were commissioned by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK to undertake a piece of work to show the value of pulmonary rehabilitation in reducing exacerbations in COPD patients so that they could create a web based tool that would show cost savings if GPs actually referred people for pulmonary rehabilitation. Previous systematic reviews have found that pulmonary rehab can reduce hospital admissions but those groups are often small and not very generalizable so we decided to look at what happens in a primary care COPD population. Our main finding is that people who are eligible for referral are not being referred  - less than 10% eligible were actually referred. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect / 24.10.2017 Interview with: Shelly Levy-Tzedek, PhD Head of the Cognition, Aging and Rehabilitation Lab Faculty of Health Sciences, Dept. of Physical Therapy & The Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience The Ben Gurion University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Following brain injury, patients who need to practice their physical therapy exercises at home. Many don’t practice enough or at all at home, and so we are designing robot companions to encourage them to practice and to track their progress. This study is a first step towards this goal. Here, we studied how people played a leader-follower mirror game with a robotic arm, where a person and robot took turns following each other's joint movements patterns. When the robotic arm was leading, it performed movements that were either sharp, like dribbling a ball, or smooth, like tracing a circle. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, NEJM, Orthopedics / 04.10.2017 Interview with: Monika Bayer PhD. Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen Bispebjerg Hospital Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Acute muscle strain injuries display a major clinical problem with a high incidence rate for both professional and amateur athletes and are associated with substantial risk for recurrence. Common clinical practice advices to follow the RICE (Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation) principle after strain injuries but it has not been investigated whether patients really benefit from a period of rest or whether an early of loading following the injury would improve recovery. In this study, amateur athletes were divided into two groups: one group started rehabilitation two days after the trauma, the other group waited for one week and began rehabilitation after nine days. All athletes had a clear structural defect of the muscle-connective tissue unit following explosive movements. We found that protraction of rehabilitation onset caused a three-week delay in pain-free recovery. In all athletes included, only one suffered from a re-injury. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke / 06.03.2017 Interview with: Jesse Dawson MD, BSc (Hons), FRCP, FESO Clinical Reader / Honorary Consultant Clinical Lead Scottish Stroke Research Network / NRS Stroke Research Champion Chair MVLS Research Ethics Committee Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences University of Glasgow What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:    Many patients suffer long term arm weakness after stroke and there are few effective treatments. We are assessing whether stimulation of the vagus nerve can improve recovery after stroke. Stimulation of the vagus nerve, called VNS for short, triggers the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are important for learning and memory. Pre-clinical studies have shown that combining vagus nerve stimulation with movement or rehabilitation tasks enhances brain plasticity, improves motor learning and leads to better recovery after stroke. Based on this, we performed a clinical trial in patients with arm weakness after stroke and found promising changes in the patients treated with VNS paired with rehabilitation compared to rehabilitation alone. In this study we performed a double blind sham stimulation controlled study of VNS paired with rehabilitation vs sham stimulation in patients with long term arm weakness due to ischaemic stroke. All participants were implanted with a VNS device and underwent a course of therapy. We didn’t see a statistically significant difference after 6 weeks of intensive in-clinic therapy but saw a large and significant difference after a further 60 days home exercise treatment with VNS.  There were differences on several measures, including the clinical response rate which was 88% with VNS and 33% with controls. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Pain Research, Telemedicine / 21.02.2017 Interview with: Rachel Nelligan, BPhysio Physiotherapist & Research Physiotherapist Department of Physiotherapy | Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine The University of Melbourne Victoria Australia What is the background for this study? Response: This novel study investigated the efficacy of an internet delivered model of service delivery that combined online education, Skype delivered exercise physiotherapy and an Internet-based interactive pain coping skills training program for people with persistent knee pain. Osteoarthritis, the leading cause of chronic knee pain and disability globally, has a significant individual, societal and economic burden. On an individual level knee osteoarthritis causes loss of function, reduced quality of life, and psychological distress. Clinical guidelines recommend adoption of a biopsychosocial approach to management which should include nondrug, nonsurgical treatments. Specifically exercise, education and psychological interventions (including pain coping skills training (PCST)) that foster self-management are recommended. Evidence identifies that many knee OA sufferers are not receiving adequate management due in part to challenges of accessing these effective treatments. There is an urgent need for new models of health service delivery to rectify this. Tele-rehabilitation is growing in acceptance as an effective, time efficient and convenient means for people to access effective health interventions. In knee OA internet delivered interventions specifically remotely delivered physiotherapy exercise using specialised tele-rehabilitation equipment and an Internet-based interactive PCST program (PainCOACH), designed to translate key therapeutic elements of clinician-delivered face-to-face PCST, have shown improved patient outcomes. Prior to this study the combination of these two internet-based treatments has not been investigated. (more…)
Author Interviews, Imperial College, Stroke, Technology / 06.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Paul Bentley MA MRCP PhD Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience Honorary Consultant Neurologist Neurology Dept Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust Charing Cross Hospital London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: gripAble was designed to help people with arm disability practise physiotherapy when a physiotherapist is not available, or in between physiotherapy sessions. We know that the amount of physiotherapy provision in the UK, after stroke or arm injury, is typically below that which is recommended by professional bodies. Furthermore, increasing research suggests that higher-intensity training can boost functional outcomes. The innovation was designed to help people with a range of disabilities including severe paralysis engage with computer games with their weak arm. At the same time its designed to be portable for use at home or in bed, and low-cost. gripAble also enables remote measurement and monitoring of arm function, by setting users a series of calibrated tasks played out on the tablet screen. This way doctors and physiotherapists can assess the needs of a patient, and gain an idea of how well a patient is responding to home physiotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, JAMA, Pulmonary Disease / 28.06.2016 Interview with: Peter E. Morris, MD, FACP, FCCP Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine University of Kentucky Lexington, KY What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ICU survivors demonstrate weakness. It has been postulated that interventions to promote early rehabilitation strategies might be linked to improved functional outcomes for ICU survivors. This study was based upon findings from a quality improvement endeavor that linked early rehabilitation with indications of shortened hospital stays for ICU survivors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, Women's Heart Health / 10.12.2015 Interview with: Sherry L. Grace, PhD Professor, York University Senior Scientist, University Health Network University of Toronto MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Grace: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women world-wide. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an outpatient secondary prevention program composed of structured exercise and comprehensive education and counseling.Cardiac rehabilitation participation results in lower morbidity and mortality, among other benefits. Unfortunately, women are significantly less likely to adhere to these programs than men. While the traditional model of Cardiac rehabilitation care is a hospital-based mixed-sex program, women are the minority in such programs, and state that these programs do not meet their care preferences. Two other models of CR care have been developed: hospital-based women-only (sex-specific) and monitored home-based programs. Women’s adherence to these program models is not well known. Cardiac Rehabilitation for her Heart Event Recovery (CR4HER) was a 3 parallel arm pragmatic randomized controlled trial‎ (RCT) designed to compare women’s program adherence to traditional hospital-based CR with males and females attending (mixed-sex), home-based CR (bi-weekly phone calls), and women-only hospital-based CR. The primary outcome was program adherence operationalized as  Cardiac rehabilitation site-reported percentage of prescribed sessions completed by phone or on-site, as reported by a staff member who was blind to study objectives. The secondary outcomes included functional capacity. It was hoped that by identifying the CR program model which resulted in the greatest adherence for women, their participation and potentially their cardiac outcomes could be optimized. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Grace: Similar to previous research, we found that women did not adhere very highly to the  Cardiac rehabilitation programs. Half of the women dropped out of CR, and this occurred regardless of the type of program they went to. Some women did not even start Cardiac rehabilitation at all, even though we had referred them. On average, the women went to just over half the sessions (at the CR centre or on the phone; they were prescribed a median of 24 sessions). If we consider only the women who actually started CR, they attended almost 2/3rds of prescribed CR sessions. Women experienced gains in their exercise capacity over the course of CR participation. Attending the traditional co-ed program was associated with the greatest exercise capacity. This could be due to the fact that the staff push them to exercise at their target levels when they are in a supervised program. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 14.11.2015 Interview with: Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, PhD Scientific Associate, TRI-REPS Supervisor Toronto Rehab/UHN Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Marzolini: Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a leading revascularization procedure for treating coronary artery disease. Despite effective revascularization, cardiovascular risk factor control through intensive lifestyle and pharmacological treatment is essential to prevent graft deterioration and progression of atherosclerosis following surgery. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs offer structured exercise, education, interdisciplinary support, counselling, and risk reduction to promote secondary prevention. These programs have been shown to improve fitness, psychosocial well-being, and significantly reduce morbidity and mortality after CABG surgery. However, while Canadian and international guidelines endorse “early” referral to CR post-cardiac event, actual practice is variable and delays are common_ENREF_9_ENREF_9_ENREF_7. Delayed entry is of concern, as there is emerging evidence that later referral and initiation of cardiac rehabilitation is associated with negative consequences on cardiovascular fitness, however this has not been examined in the post-CABG population. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective analysis of 6497 consecutively enrolled post CABG participants in a single cardiac rehabilitation program in Toronto, Canada from January 1995 to October 2012. Our objective was to examine the effects of later entry on CR outcomes (i.e., CR use, anthropometrics, and functional capacity) while accounting for demographic, environmental, and physiological correlates of longer wait-time. We found that longer wait-time to start a cardiac rehabilitation program was associated with poorer outcomes including less improvement in cardiopulmonary fitness and lower program attendance, which have been shown to confer a mortality disadvantage. Longer wait time was also associated with less improvement in body fat percentage as well as poorer completion rates. We identified that bypass patients predisposed to longer wait times, and subsequently poorer participation and outcomes, are women, those who are older, from a lower socioeconomic neighborhood, people with a more complex medical history, who are employed, have a longer drive-time to cardiac rehabilitation, and people with less social support. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness / 30.06.2015 Interview with: Andreas Vigelsø PhD, research assistant University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences Center for Healthy Aging Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Copenhagen Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: According to the UN, the number of individuals more than 60 years old is expected to more than double, from 841 million worldwide today to more than 2 billion in 2050. Furthermore, the aging process is associated with a reduction in muscle mass, strength and fitness level. Collectively, this may contribute to frailty and may limit independent living. In addition, disease or injuries that can cause short-term immobilization are a further threat to independent living for older individuals. Despite its clinical importance for an increasing population of older individuals, few studies have examined older individuals after immobilization. Thus, our aim was to determine the effect of aerobic retraining as rehabilitation after short-term leg immobilization on leg strength, leg work capacity, and leg muscle mass in young and older men. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Interestingly, our study reveals that inactivity affects the muscular strength in young and older men equally. Having had one leg immobilized for two weeks, young people lose up to a third of their muscular strength, while older people lose approx. one fourth. A young man who is immobilized for two weeks loses muscular strength in his leg equivalent to ageing by 40 or 50 years. Moreover, short-term leg immobilization had marked effects on leg strength, and work capacity and 6 weeks’ retraining was sufficient to increase, but not completely rehabilitate, muscle strength, and to rehabilitate aerobic work capacity and leg muscle mass. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Cost of Health Care / 19.06.2014 Interview with: Natasha K Brusco Manager of Physiotherapy Services, Cabrini Health PhD Candidate, Physiotherapy Department, Faculty of Health Science, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: This economic evaluation reports that providing additional Saturday rehabilitation, compared to Monday to Friday rehabilitation alone, is likely to be cost saving per quality adjusted life year gained and for a minimal clinically important difference in functional independence. This builds on previous literature that reports that additional Saturday rehabilitation can improve functional independence and health related quality of life at discharge and may reduce patient length of stay. (more…)