Supply closet becomes exercise room for stem cell patients

Supply closet becomes exercise room for stem cell patients

An underused supply closet is now a fully functioning exercise room thanks to the vision of clinicians and patients on Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre’s (JHCC) hematology unit.

Stem cell transplant patients have to take steroids to discourage their bodies from rejecting their transplant. Unfortunately the medication often comes with many nasty side effects.

Her reaction to the steroids has stripped the majority of her muscle tone, resulting in frequent falls.

Swelling and muscle degeneration are two common ones that Jacquie Hoover has experienced. Since her transplant in June 2015, she has been in and out of JHCC. Her reaction to the steroids has stripped the majority of her muscle tone, resulting in frequent falls.

Jacquie Hoover listens to instructions from her physiotherapist
Hoover listens to instructions from her physiotherapist

That’s why she was overjoyed to hear that JHCC physiotherapist, Oren Cheifetz, was spearheading a project to convert the floor’s broom closet into a miniature fitness centre for patients. With support from people like Jacquie, and funding from the Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association, Oren and his team have created a safe space for patients to exercise in order to maintain or regain muscle tone.

Some patients, like Hoover, workout with support from a physiotherapy assistant or specially trained family member. Others are given a “fitness pass” to use the equipment on their own as prescribed by Cheifetz. He says it’s an important part of treatment that we are beginning to prioritize, “You focus on living. You want to survive it. You don’t really focus on exercise…but you need to live well.”

Research has shown that exercise reduces many of the symptoms of steroid therapy and can increase the life expectancy of cancer patients. Hoover has just started her exercise program and knows she has a lot of work ahead of her. But she’s excited to make fitness part of her recovery and is happy to have the necessary resources at her fingertips.