Nikol Grishin’s MSc Thesis Proposal

Title: VEXT: An 8-week Virtual EXercise and Texting program for pediatric solid organ transplant patients

Supervisor: Dr. Bill Sheel
Committee members: Dr. Jim Potts, Dr. Eli Puterman, Dr. Kathryn Armstrong

Abstract: Solid organ transplantation (SOT) is a life-saving intervention for those with end-stage heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease. Although there have been considerable advancements in organ preservation and survival following SOT, there are still many comorbidities that are present such as early-onset of cardiovascular disease, post-transplant metabolic syndrome, and more. As morbidity and mortality continue to fall after SOT, the long-term focus should be on identifying modifiable risk factors that can be addressed to improve health-related quality of life (HRQoL), morbidity, and survival. One of the interventions that can be used to address these risk factors is increasing physical activity and promoting a more active lifestyle which can lead to both immediate and long-term benefits. From a clinical perspective, it is known that post-operative physical activity levels are low, and exercise tolerance is limited in pediatric SOT patients. Exercise training studies in pediatric SOT patients have reported improved physical functioning, mental well-being, and exercise capacity. It is important to understand that the overall goal for children with SOTs is to regain function, improve their HRQoL, and to promote confidence for safely participating in activities, which can all be done by introducing exercise and participating in it regularly. At this time, few studies have evaluated the effects of exercise training in children and adolescents with SOT as most of the research is focused on the adult population.

The aim of this study is to create a virtual exercise rehabilitation program for children and adolescents with a SOT, and to determine whether such a program is feasible, engaging, and effective. This program will be an 8-week intervention consisting of three virtual exercise classes a week, 30 minutes in duration. In addition to weekly exercise classes, participants will receive weekly automated text-messages, allowing them to have continuous contact with their health care team and researchers. Pre-assessments and post-assessments will also all be conducted virtually, and will include the PedsQL-TM and PedsQL Fatigue Scale as measures of HRQoL, the Bruininsk-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency Second Edition for strength, and the Physical Activity Questionnaire to measure daily physical activity levels.