Fitness trackers could speed up surgery recovery times — study

fitness tracker
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Fitness trackers could help speed up recovery times following major cancer surgery, new research has found.

Cancer sufferers who wore an exercise-tracking device for six weeks before an operation stayed in the hospital for a third fewer days than those not using the gadget.اضافة اعلان

Doctors involved in the study say the findings highlight the importance of exercise before surgery and suggest fitness trackers could be used to help achieve this.

Omer Aziz, a consultant surgeon at the Christie National Health Service Foundation Trust in Manchester and lead author of the study, said: “This novel approach could mean more patients are fitter for surgery, resulting in a shorter recovery time and therefore fewer days in hospital.”

The University of Manchester study began in 2019, and recruited 22 patients who were scheduled to have major abdominal surgery at the Christie for appendix cancer.

Half the patients were given a popular Fitbit device and an exercise program, while the other half were instructed to continue with their normal level of activity.

All participants were asked to keep a detailed log of the exercise they did, and whether the device motivated them to do more.

Researchers found that real-time feedback of the number of calories burned and increase in heart rate — as is displayed on the device — proved an effective motivator, pushing participants to keep exercising when they felt tired.

After surgery, the Fitbit group were not only able to leave hospital several days earlier than those in the control group, but were also less likely to return with health issues related to their procedure.

Previous research has shown hospital patients who take part in a so-called “pre-hab” program of regular exercise in the lead-up to surgery have a 50 percent reduction in complications such as pneumonia, and the length of their hospital stay is cut by three days.

Seema Rahman, senior physiotherapist at the Christie, said: “As little as 12 hours after the operation we noticed the patients who had used the Fitbits felt fitter and were happy to get out of bed and start the rehabilitation process.”

One patient to benefit is 61-year-old Julie Gray, from Lancashire, a participant in the trial.

“The Fitbit certainly made me do more exercise,” says Julie, who had an operation on her bowel.

“It did help me with the recovery because I was up and about not long after the operation.”

She left hospital three days earlier than the average length of stay for this kind of procedure.

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