Retrofit’s INDEX Programme and Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF)
Since 2019, Retrofit has been working with Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF) to improve the quality of life for dialysis patients. The Intradialysis Exercise Programme, or INDEX programme for short, is a regular exercise training programme conducted while participants are undergoing hemodialysis.
Why exercise during dialysis?
The INDEX programme focuses on exercising during the hemodialysis session itself, as opposed to before or after the session.
As participants are required to sit through for 3-5 hours of dialysis 3 times a week, the exercise programme breaks the sedentary pattern by a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises.
As a result of hemodialysis and being sedentary for hours, participants do experience muscle cramping towards the end and after their dialysis sessions. Another benefit of intradialytic exercise is that it helps to reduce the onset of cramping.
The use of aerobic exercises like pedal cycling helps to improve the effectiveness of hemodialysis itself by improving muscle blood flow and allowing the waste products from the body to be cleared more efficiently.
Focusing on exercising during dialysis also helps participants stay motivated to exercise regularly.
Providing 30 to 45-minute exercise sessions three times a week gives participants a foundation to hit the minimum target of 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
The INDEX Programme
Every participant of the programme is first assessed for their fall risk and functional strength.
Conducted by physiotherapists and supported by exercise specialists, these pre-programme assessments will determine the exercise training goals for each participant.
This personalised goal will be the main focus for the next 6-8 weeks of exercise training, after which a post-programme assessment will be conducted again at the end to check for improvements.
This process will repeat with the goals changing constantly as participants get stronger and achieve their goals.
Reducing fall risk and improving strength for daily tasks
Once training goals have been established, exercise specialists will design exercises based on a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises.
Aerobic exercises help improve heart and lung health, blood pressure and blood circulation throughout the body. This allows participants to stand longer and move around more efficiently.
Resistance exercises utilise one’s own bodyweight or external weight to improve muscle strength and reduce the risk of falling.
This gives participants the strength to perform daily tasks like standing up from a chair, climbing stairs, carrying groceries and much more. Resistance exercises also help prevent muscle atrophy and maintain healthy joints.
Benefits of the INDEX Programme so far
Mr Phua, one of the participants in the programme, commented that in just a few months of exercising, he was able to walk up and down more flights of steps during his volunteering before feeling out of breath.
Mdm Wee, a long-time participant, was able to climb up the overhead bridge faster without feeling muscle soreness in her legs like she used to before the INDEX Programme.
Future Goals for Retrofit
Having experienced success with helping dialysis patients improve their quality of life, Retrofit plans to reach out to other chronic illness demographics.
Apart from building muscle or managing weight, exercise can improve multiple aspects of health that go beyond medication or surgery. By understanding that exercise is medicine, it is our goal to enable people with chronic conditions to move better and live better.
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