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Effects of an Individualized Aerobic Exercise Program in Individuals With a Brain Tumor Undergoing Inpatient Rehabilitation: A Feasibility Study

Ayotte, Sarah L., PT, DPT1; Harro, Cathy C., PT, MS, NCS2

doi: 10.1097/01.REO.0000000000000069

Background/Objective: To investigate the feasibility of aerobic exercise training in patients with brain tumors and its effects on aerobic function, strength, fatigue, and functional outcomes.

Methods: Design: Prospective study, single cohort design. Setting: Phase 1: inpatient rehabilitation hospital; phase 2: outpatient setting. Patients: Patients with primary or metastatic brain tumors. Twenty qualified participants enrolled, 16 participants (9 men, 7 women; mean age = 56.6 years) completed phase 1. One participant completed phase 2. Intervention: Individualized aerobic training on a recumbent cycle ergometer. Phase 1: 5 days per week; phase 2: 3 days per week. Training goal was 20 minutes of continuous cycling at moderate intensity for a duration of 6 weeks including phase 1 and phase 2. Measurements: Aerobic capacity (graded submaximal cycling test), Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT), Functional Independence Measure, lower-extremity composite strength, and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Fatigue; measures were assessed pretraining, at inpatient discharge, and posttraining. Feasibility determined by (1) adherence to training program, (2) training responsiveness, and (3) ability to achieve training goals.

Results: Statistically significant changes in all outcome measures found during phase 1, with moderate gains in aerobic capacity and the 6MWT. All participants reached the training goal of 20 minutes of continuous cycling at moderate intensity and adherence to 5 training sessions per week in phase 1. No adverse events reported.

Limitations: Lack of a control group and limited participation in phase 2; therefore, training responsiveness assessed only during inpatient phase.

Conclusion: Study supports the feasibility and effectiveness of an individualized aerobic exercise program for individuals with brain tumors.

1Physical Therapist, Department of Physical Therapy, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI

2Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy, Department of Physical Therapy, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI

Correspondence: Sarah L. Ayotte, PT, DPT, Department of Physical Therapy, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, 235 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (

Findings from this study were presented in poster format at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, October 2016.

This study was conducted in the Physical Therapy Department at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grant Support: Internal funding support provided by Mary Free Bed Research Grant.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Copyright 2017 © Oncology Section, APTA
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