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Telehealth for patients with liver cancer

TELEX - Liver Cancer

Structured exercise brings various health benefits to people living with cancer, including improved quality of life, physical fitness, and life-expectancy. However, there are many things that prevent structured exercise being made available to patients with cancer, such as the cost of facilities to the NHS.

Professor Helen Reeves, alongside Physio Dr Kate Hallsworth, Sports Scientist Dr Sam Orange and Research Technician Misti McCain, won £49,000 from the Newcastle Biomedical Research Council, for a pilot study which started in the summer of 2021. 

We all know that exercise is ‘good for us’. There is mounting evidence though, that it can be very beneficial for patients with cancer.  This can be in improving quality of life, but also fitness and survival. Delivering exercise around our region can be challenging though, to people with liver disease, worried about having liver cancer, with varying levels of fitness and confidence, as well as variable access to facilities. 

Helen, Kate, Misti and Sam identified patients who are in remission after liver cancer treatment and are willing to help explore ‘Telehealth’ – meaning computer supervised exercise from home.  They have been provided with simple exercise equipment, a ‘tablet’ preloaded with wifi access and ‘Zoom’ software, and have been delivered a one-to-one induction over the internet, followed by twice weekly exercise classes supervised by Kate, Sam and Misti.

The exercise is tailored to each individual, with chair-based and standing options. We want to see if its feasible, what works well and what does not – so that moving forward, we can move towards big changes in NHS care – hopefully bringing Telehealth to the forefront for our patients with liver disease and cancer.  We will keep you posted!

TELEX Update - May 2022

So far we have recruited 14 patients who attend twice-weekly exercise sessions for 10 weeks. Sessions last around 45 minutes and are supervised ‘virtually’ using online videoconferencing. 

Interim analysis has highlighted improvements in patients’ physical function and empirical reports of improvements in quality of life and feelings of well-being after completing TELEX.

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