By Sara Bondell
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has battled cancer four times over the last two decades, but it never kept her out of the gym.
She told an audience at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law she never stopped working out during her radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer this summer. “Even in my lowest periods I couldn’t do very much, but I did what I can,” she said.
Ginsburg has been exercising with the same trainer since her 1999 bout with colon cancer, and the 86-year-old’s routine still includes push-ups, planks and weights.
Multiple studies show exercising during cancer treatment can be beneficial to patients, and Moffitt Cancer Center is always working to integrate movement into treatment plans and recovery.
When Bonnie Coe was transferred to Moffitt earlier this month, she had already spent two weeks stuck in bed at another hospital. She was hospitalized after having heart problems caused by chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma.
“I wanted to get up and move so badly,” said Coe. “I felt so weak and knew I had lost a lot of muscle tone.”
Coe was in luck. She was placed in a room in Moffitt’s 3 South Tower, where Nursing and Rehabilitation Services have launched a joint project to get patients moving.
“Daily mobility reduces complications associated with hospitalization, improves independence after hospitalization and reduces length of stay in the hospital,” said Ron Jennings, manager of Moffitt’s Rehabilitation Services.
Mobility is also a key component of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Age-Friendly Health System designation, which Moffitt achieved last year.
There is a mobility board on the floor to track participating patients’ progress. Each patient is represented on the board with a magnetic race car, which is moved forward a space on the grid each time the patient walks. The goal is for the patient to walk three times a day, and there are maps posted around the floor outlining walking distances.
For Coe, the program has made a world of difference in her recovery. She now gets out of bed to walk daily with help from the teams and is hoping to be discharged soon. “It helps me so much,” she said. “It helps me feel better and releases a lot of pain in my legs.” Seeing her car move on the mobility board also helps her track her progress and gives her a confidence boost.
The Nursing and Rehabilitation Services teams are collecting data on how much patients are moving and how it’s affecting their recovery with the plan of expanding the mobility program to other floors. Rehabilitation aids will soon expand their role, specifically targeting patients around the hospital they think would benefit from the mobility program.