New resource a move in the right direction

 

Oncology rehabilitation moves online to support physiotherapists in the provision of exercise programs for people with cancer.

A Pat Cosh Trust grant helped Amy Dennett develop the Cancer Exercise Toolkit.

From February, a new online multimedia resource is set to provide physiotherapists with a toolkit to help them prescribe exercise to people with cancer in accordance with evidence-based recommendations.

Eastern Health physiotherapist Dr Amy Dennett, APAM, who is also a La Trobe University researcher, has spent nine months developing the Cancer Exercise Toolkit for her project, Taking Oncology Rehabilitation Online (TORO).

The website has the potential to provide cancer survivors with better access to specialist cancer rehabilitation programs.

‘Cancer is a leading cause of disease  burden in Australia. Exercise has benefits to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of people with cancer. However, programs that might help people become more physically active are scarce,’ Amy says.

‘Only one in 200 cancer survivors has access to specialised cancer rehabilitation programs. So, we designed this website complete with resources and tools to help empower exercise professionals to set up exercise programs in their own clinic or health service.

Hopefully, this will enable cancer survivors to better access rehabilitation services.’

The evidence-based oncology rehabilitation resource is designed to assist physiotherapists in providing practical support to deliver rehabilitation and exercise medicine to patients.

Content is delivered in a mix of formats (podcasts, articles and videos). 

Sections are clearly defined from how to get started and undertake initial patient screening to assessing and prescribing patient exercise.

Additional resources include a helpful guide on where to find community and hospital-based cancer specific rehabilitation programs, case studies, as well as educational information for both patient and clinician.

All content has been based on the learning needs of 26 clinicians who participated in four co-design workshops.

The co-design group then tested a prototype website, with their feedback influencing refinements.

The final stages of website development and content evaluation were completed late last year in readiness for the launch on World Cancer Day on 4 February.

‘Working with patients with cancer requires specific knowledge and this website is designed to share such knowledge to fully qualified health professionals.

‘Post-launch we’ll survey physiotherapists to evaluate how effective it’s been for helping with their knowledge and their confidence in prescribing exercise-based rehabilitation.’

As a specialist in the development of oncology rehabilitation programs, Amy is a member of the Victorian APA Cancer, Palliative Care and Lymphoedema committee, and a 2020 Pat Cosh Trust recipient.

Her $14,500 grant has been integral to the website’s development, enabling the funding of a physiotherapist with experience in oncology rehabilitation to be TORO’s project officer.

Grants like this are really important for funding projects that might not traditionally get funded by other research means.

'The Trust promotes developing innovative ways to educate physiotherapists or other clinicians.

'If you’ve got an innovative idea and looking to span the clinical and research space in education, this is the perfect way to do that,’ Amy says.

‘Our project officer has learnt new skills in web design and understanding the user experience in navigating a website—she has essentially built this website.

'She now has a transferable skill that’s really valuable for translating research to practice.’

Information about the TORO project and access to the website will be promoted through professional and health service networks, as well as professional bodies.

A post-implementation ‘celebration event’ is set to be held in May.

>> To access the website, email Amy at a.dennett@latrobe.edu.au.

 

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