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One Step at a Time: A Myeloma Patient’s Guide to Developing Movement and Coordination

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Published on February 22, 2019

Melanie House, a physical therapist from the University of Iowa Health Care, discusses the health benefits walking and shares steps multiple myeloma patients can take to set and accomplish health goals, like climbing stairs. Tune in to learn more about building endurance and strengthening the cardiovascular system.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank AbbVie, Inc., Celgene Corporation, and Takeda Oncology for their support.

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Transcript | One Step at a Time: A Myeloma Patient’s Guide to Developing Movement and Coordination

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:                      

So, Melanie, I got as a Father’s Day gift, a Fitbit. Somebody may get a bigger one, a smaller one, an Apple Watch or just count their steps somehow. 

So, today Esther and I were around Quebec City where we are partly on vacation. We did 11,000 steps, and I’m a two-time cancer survivor—chronic lymphocytic leukemia and myelofibrosis. So, Melanie, just walking is that good? I didn’t jog and I didn’t lift weights today, but I walked.

Melanie House:       

So, that is a huge accomplishment, especially when you think about what you achieve by walking. Something that people don’t realize is that earlier you mentioned the importance of load bearing to the bones in order to stimulate bone density. 

Well, people don’t realize that when we’re walking because of our body weight and the influence of gravity. When your foot hits the ground, your bones actually experience about one-and-a-half times your body weight. So, you are actually doing an appropriate dose of loading to those long bones in your legs, for example. 

So, you've gotten some weight bearing in, you've gotten some endurance exercise in, helps to build your cardiovascular system. And the other thing is that walking—I did want to mention because a lot of my patients they're very fixated on walking and I applaud them. But if we are trying to prepare people to be able to do other things like climb their stairs, then we do have to add a different type of exercise to prepare them for that. 

Andrew Schorr:          

Okay, what’s that? So, how do I, or our friend Cindy Chmielewski and some of the other myeloma patients have even done these mountain climbs, which have been incredible. But how do you prepare for climbing steps or a mountain?

Melanie House:           

So, as it turns out, you practice for the test for most things. If what you need to be able to do is climb stairs we need to either be climbing stairs while you’re in the hospital or in our case because we know that our patients are, they're prone to getting low blood pressure while they're here. Usually I think is a side effect of the chemotherapy. 

Then we have gone to what's called the NuStep. That's the name of an exercise machine that is basically a seated stepper. So, that is one way that we're able to get people working on their stair-climbing muscles in a safe way while they're hospitalized.

 But even an exercise like bridging, that's something that can be done lying in the bed. For my patients that can't get in the hallway, we're doing a bridging exercise which is working all of the same muscles at zero percent risk of falling down because they're already lying in bed. 

And some people like to do squat exercises, which can be done and should be done over a chair or over the bed. But the one precaution there, if you are dealing with fluctuations and blood pressure is if you're doing that sit to stand motion repetitively that could bring on that sense of light-headedness or weakness because of the drop in blood pressure.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.