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A successful exercise programme for cancer survivors

Dr Grainne Sheill's work showed that exercise services can be integrated into a National Cancer Centre.

A chartered physiotherapist by profession, Dr Grainne Sheill is based in the Trinity St James Cancer Institute. Dr Sheill has a Master’s degree from University College Dublin and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin examining the role of exercise in patients with advanced cancer.

In 2018, Dr Sheill was granted Irish Cancer Society funding by means of a Stimulus Award to explore the feasibility of implementing an exercise programme for cancer survivors in a National Cancer Centre.

Whilst access to exercise rehabilitation can help cancer survivors to maximise their quality of life after treatment, there is a lack of exercise programmes available to patients in the months after cancer treatment. Dr Sheill’s study demonstrated that patients completing treatment were interested in, and benefited from, a ten-week physiotherapy-led exercise rehabilitation programme. The project demonstrated that exercise services could be integrated into cancer care and was the basis for a successful business case to secure continued funding for a cancer exercise rehabilitation service in St James’s Physiotherapy Department. The service will continue with a new full-time Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Cancer Rehabilitation. This post will be of huge benefit to people affected by cancer.

Speaking about the research, Dr Sheill said:

The information gathered through this research provides important information on how exercise oncology can be translated into a model of care for a broad population of cancer survivors.

As such, the results of this programme provide a robust framework which will help to further develop the exercise rehabilitation programmes available to patients in Ireland.

This project was a collaboration between the Trinity Exercise Oncology Research Group and the Physiotherapy Department at St James’s Hospital. The Trinity Exercise Oncology Group is a multidisciplinary group conducting research into the role of exercise in cancer care. The group aims to conduct patient-centred, clinically relevant research that has the potential to positively benefit patient care.