Pioneering digital fitness drive for Clatterbridge cancer patients
Posted 24th May 2023
Clatterbridge cancer patients awaiting immunotherapy have the chance to get fitter and improve their chances of successful treatment through a partnership with the hospital and a university.
The new pilot initiative offers patients at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust free digital smart watches linked to a bespoke exercise plan designed by clinical exercise experts at Liverpool John Moores University, which aims to help them become fitter in the lead up to, during and after their cancer treatment.
Studies have shown that getting regular exercise can cut your chances of developing cancer but it can also help people who have the disease to prepare for treatment that they may find challenging – and can help them better cope with the after effects of that treatment.
Fatigue is one of the main problems that patients report when they are being treated with immunotherapy, which is treatment that helps the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Exercise can reduce tiredness and also helps to promote a better mental wellbeing and a healthy way of life.
The personalised fitness programme that patients can join – called MOTIVATE – has been developed by a team at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and up to 40 Clatterbridge patients can be involved as part of the initial pilot.
The exercise the patients do, in the comfort of their own homes, is remotely monitored by the LJMU team through the smart watches the patients wear, linked to their phones. Patients receive personalised text messages and can have digital meetings with university-based exercise specialists to discuss their activity and progress.
Patients joining the exercise programme will be screened for suitability and given a fitness plan unique to them. They can pause their activity at any stage if they feel too unwell to take part.
Dr Jess Hale, a Medical Oncology Registrar at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, is leading the £40,000 project together with Dr Anna Olsson-Brown, a medical Oncology Consultant in Melanoma and specialist in immunotherapy, which is being funded by Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.
Dr Hale, pictured with one of the smartwatches, said: “Immunotherapy is becoming a more common treatment for cancer. Although it can be an effective treatment for cancer, the side effects can be significant. One of the most common and difficult side effects noticed by patients is tiredness. This can have a huge impact upon mood and quality of life.
“One way to improve energy levels, in general, is to increase activity levels before and during treatment. The type of activity can vary greatly depending on the person and ranges from a chair-based exercise to jogging.
“This home-based exercise programme is designed with patients, based on their fitness levels and delivered straight to patients’ watches in their own home. Patients receive regular meetings and feedback with an exercise professional, meaning they are supported and feel safe to be more active during their treatment.
“This remote exercise solution bridges the gap between supervised exercise and basic physical activity advice, enabling more patients to safely engage in regular long-term physically active lifestyles.
“We hope this will reduce tiredness and improve the way patients feel while they are having treatment.”
Clatterbridge Innovation Manager Drew Norwood-Green said: “This new project has come through our Bright Ideas scheme, which has attracted more than 150 initiatives from our workforce to improve the lives of patients and staff – backed by a fund from Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.
“This project addresses the needs of our growing numbers of immunotherapy patients by supporting them in improving their fitness – and so helping them sustain long-term health, which can improve their chances of successful outcomes for them.
“We would like to thank LJMU for partnering with us in this project, which will make a big difference to many of our patients.”