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The six to 12 weeks that patients undergoing bone marrow transplants must spend in their hospital rooms can seem endless.
Enter BWH physical therapists, who are helping patients to regain strength and endurance and boosting their spirits with a range of techniques. Those include the use of stationary bikes, relaxation therapy, visual imagery, resistive and non-resistive exercises, core stabilization, manual therapy such as joint mobilization and postural exercises.
The therapists are reducing the side effects of patients’ treatment and hospitalization by designing customized exercise programs for each patient and monitoring them one on one during therapy.
“With this new program for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants, we’re intervening early on during their hospital stays to improve their quality of life,” said Dan Ovitt, PT, senior physical therapist. “Patients are encouraged when they learn it is possible to maintain strength and endurance while undergoing therapy and prevent a decline in functional status.”
The success of the program demonstrates the valuable role therapists play as active members of the care team in Bone Marrow Transplant alongside physicians, physician assistants, nurses and others.
“We designated one therapist to communicate with the bone marrow transplant team on a daily basis to assess the rehabilitative needs of patients. This resulted in the generation of numerous consults and increased use of our services,” said Roya Ghazinouri, PT, DPT, MS, clinical supervisor for Inpatient Physical Therapy.
The program for bone marrow transplant patients is one way the Inpatient Rehabilitation Department is expanding its services to cancer patients. Ghazinouri, Ovitt and their team also are working with surgeons and nurses in the Comprehensive Breast Health Center to develop a rehabilitation program for patients who undergo mastectomies.
“Our goal with this program is for a physical therapist or occupational therapist to evaluate patients before they leave the hospital,” Ghazinouri said. “We’ll provide skilled guidance about what they need to do to prevent any complications, including specific exercises and activity precautions.”
The program is set to begin in April. In addition to meeting with a therapist, patients will receive a booklet outlining basic information to ensure successful healing, including instructions on appropriate shoulder exercises, techniques for deep breathing and relaxation, nutrition and more.
“We’re very excited about this program,” said Maryann Sabetti-Gramajo, RN, of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center. “Patients often are nervous about moving after surgery, and meeting with a physical therapist will reassure them about how to do so to optimize recovery and prevent long-term problems.”