UAMS Receives Grant to Study Exercise and Cancer Patients

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The inability to get a good night’s sleep is a problem that many cancer patients face. A $1.2 million grant recently awarded to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing will study ways to combat this often-troubling problem through the use of aerobic and strength-training exercise.


Dr. Ann Coleman, Ph.D., R.N., received the grant from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Nursing Research, both of the National Institutes of Health, to study the effects of exercise on insomnia and fatigue among cancer patients. Coleman holds the Elizabeth Stanley Cooper Chair in Oncology Nursing at UAMS.


“About 50 percent of all cancer patients experience insomnia and 100 percent experience fatigue during the course of their treatment,” Coleman said. “To date, no one has studied the effects of cancer-related fatigue on patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy. It is our goal to determine if these patients can safely and effectively improve their quality of rest by incorporating exercise into their daily routine.”


The three-year study will involve 200 patients with multiple myeloma, a rare type of cancer that affects plasma cells and often requires stem-cell transplants. Before beginning the study, patients must demonstrate how far they can walk in six minutes and must be free of any conditions that limit their physical mobility, such as bone fractures. Then they are instructed to walk 30 minutes each day and are taught strength-building exercises through the use of resistance bands.


“We encourage all of our cancer patients to get as much physical activity as possible. With this grant, we are able to teach specific strength-training exercises, as well as monitor the quality of sleep our patients achieve,” Coleman said.


Participants are asked to wear an actigraph device for 72 hours to monitor the amount of time they sleep both at night and during the day. The actigraph also records the number of times a patient awakens during periods of rest. In addition, 40 patients will participate in an overnight sleep study to monitor their specific sleep stages.


“If we determine that these 200 multiple myeloma patients can safely participate in an exercise routine while they are undergoing even the most intensive treatment, it is our belief that most cancer patients can do the same,” Coleman said. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent as many problems as possible for cancer patients before they begin.”


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.