At the Hospital Virgin del Rocío (Spain) a pilot project has been running since last September to encourage pediatric heart patients to lose their fear of physical exercise and improve their body mass index. Some results are already obtained, according to Inmaculada Guillén, principal investigator of the project and pediatric cardiologist at the Hospital Virgine del Rocío: “The conclusions we have in general are quite good. More than 50 percent of patients had a high adherence to the program, and of these, 80 percent improved their body mass index and functional test parameters,” he maintains at Medical Writing.
In addition, he adds that the hospital is “very happy” that this project is going, since it has not had “any adverse effect.” And this, “already a success,” insists Guillen. However, the main researcher emphasizes that another 50 percent of patients had medium or low adherence to the rehabilitation program. Half of them also achieved “improvement” in functional tests when they lost their fear of playing sports and started other gym activities, he says.
This pilot project seeks to help train patients between twelve and sixteen years old who have undergone heart surgery through video games with virtual reality glasses. With this project, patients can play for their strength without a home, since rehabilitation takes place from their homes, remote from the control of health professionals. From the Sevillian hospital they show that this technology allows doctors to carry out “exhaustive” monitoring of the patient and control their physical activity.
Project help to ‘cover’ the failure of the rehabilitation program
“The hospital’s Pediatric Cardiology Service does not have rehabilitation programs.” For now, we don’t have gyms, teachers, facilities. When the children finish their intervention, we give them some recommendations, but we have no control over what they do”, insists Immaculate Guillén. For this reason, he hopes that the institution will again be able to carry out more pediatric patients. He pointed to the next meeting in which they will evaluate the final results and draw a path to the plan to “expand”.
In the case of obtaining sufficient finances, Guillén specifies that he wants to involve older patients, from eight to eighteen years old. “We would like to include in the program all patients who are not meeting the goals of leading a healthy lifestyle and not being overweight,” he says.
New technologies and patient movements are “key” to the project
One of the fundamental objectives of the research team was to turn cardiac rehabilitation into something “playable”. Thus, Guillén argues, health professionals can control the entire process from the hospital. That “reduces the anxiety and fear of games” that both patients and families can have, Guillen says. “The key to success is the motivation we give to pediatric patients,” because “the experience of undergoing heart surgery makes them afraid to start a sports activity.”
In a pilot project carried out in a Sevillian hospital, the new technology has exercised a transcendental role. And from the Virgin del Rocío, what they call “accommodating” the needs of the sick, putting everything that can be used for their benefit, “it will be acceptable.” “The new world has just begun and using these healthy tools can be quite useful,” concludes Immaculada Guillén.
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