Article Abstract

Merging technology and clinical research for optimized post-surgical rehabilitation of lung cancer patients

Authors: Amy J. Hoffman, Ruth Ann Brintnall, Julie Cooper

Abstract

Background: The 21st century has ushered in an age of wireless communication and technological breakthroughs providing researchers with opportunities and challenges as they incorporate this technology into their research. This paper presents the challenges our team encountered introducing new technologies and how they were overcome for an intervention for post-thoracotomy non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
Methods: Our intervention incorporated the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus virtual-reality walking and balance exercise into a home-based rehabilitation program. The intervention is novel and innovative in that the intervention provides light-intensity exercise post-thoracotomy for NSCLC patients immediately after return to home from the hospital. The intervention overcomes the barriers of conventional exercise programs that require travel, conventional exercise equipment, and begin months after surgery.
Results: When translating new technology to research, researchers need to consider a number of factors that need to be addressed. Institutional Review Boards may need further explanation as to why the technology is safe, potential participants may need to have unfounded concerns explained before enrolling, and the research team needs a plan for introducing the technology to participants with a vast range of skill sets and environments in which they will be using technology. In our study, we addressed each of these factors using varying approaches as we translated how the Wii would be used in a home-based exercise intervention by a highly vulnerable, post-thoracotomy NSCLC population.
Conclusions: While technology brings with it multiple barriers for successful implementation, our team showed that with proper planning and teamwork, researchers can navigate these issues bringing the full benefit of technology to even the most vulnerable of patient populations.