Exercise in Patients Receiving Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Lessons Learned and Results From a Feasibility Study

Eileen D. Hacker

Janet L. Larson

David Peace

exercise, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
ONF 2011, 38(2), 216-223. DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.216-223

Purpose/Objectives: To test the feasibility and acceptability of a strength-training intervention in patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

Design: One-group prospective, repeated-measures design.

Setting: Academic medical center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: Convenience sample of 10 patients receiving HSCT.

Methods: The strength-training intervention consisted of a comprehensive program of progressive resistance to strengthen the upper body, lower body, and abdominal muscles using elastic resistance bands. Instruction and low-intensity training began while the patients were hospitalized and progressed to a moderate level immediately following discharge from the hospital. Training continued for six weeks following hospital discharge.

Main Research Variables: Acceptability of the strength-training intervention was evaluated via subjective assessment and by determining the patient's ability to perform the exercises. Feasibility was evaluated by determining the number of patients who were able to complete the prescribed strength intervention and whether the patients used elastic resistance bands.

Findings: The strength-training intervention was refined from an unsupervised, home-based program to a combination supervised and unsupervised program with weekly clinic visits. Patients reported that the exercises were very acceptable, although some started out at a very low intensity.

Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility and acceptability of the strength-training intervention. The level of supervision required for the strength-training intervention was higher than expected.

Implications for Nursing: Strength training may be an effective intervention to alleviate problems with decreased physical activity, reduced muscle mass, and fatigue in HSCT recipients. Additional research is needed.

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