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Stem Cell Transplant Patients on the Move

Conquest - Fall 2010

By Lana Maciel

The Motivated & Moving program
encourages patients to exercise.
Photos: Erin McCormick

A lot of patients are walking the halls of the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center these days. They are part of the Motivated & Moving program designed to encourage patients undergoing stem cell transplantation to increase their physical activity.

Kelly Faltus, advanced practice nurse in the inpatient unit, says the exercise performed through the program helps promote a sense of well-being and reduces the fatigue common among transplant recipients.

“Before we started the program, patients were getting out and walking, but it wasn’t consistent,” Faltus says. “Sometimes they were too tired, or the nurses were busy and weren’t reminding them. So we wanted to find a fun way to encourage them to exercise on their own.”

The result was the creation of the incentive-based program, in which patients earn rewards based on how much they exercise each week.

Exercising for a cause

The goal is for patients to walk around the unit hallways at least three times a day. Other options include riding a stationary bike, using exercise stretch bands or participating in weekly exercise classes.

For every exercise activity performed,
patients earn colorful circles to post
on their door.

Each day, patients log their activity on a Motivated & Moving paper and post it on their door. One point is awarded each time the patient leaves the room to walk, and three points are given for taking an exercise class. For every 15 points earned, patients are given a colored bandana. For example, red bandanas denote 15 points, while purple denotes 90. The program has even developed a bit of healthy competition in the units.

For many patients, being in the inpatient setting for a prolonged time can often cause depression and keep them from wanting to leave their room, Faltus says. But in addition to exercise, the program also promotes social interaction.

“As patients are walking, they’re also meeting new people and talking with nurses and other patients,” she says. “It’s created a new kind of culture on our floor.”

The Motivated & Moving program has proven so successful in the past year that the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Center was awarded the J Patrick Barnes Grant for Nursing Research. The $3,332 grant from the Daisy Foundation will allow the center to begin scientific research on the program's effectiveness.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center