Stoma study shows importance of exercise to avoid complications
The Community and Oral Health Wound Management and Stomal Therapy team are looking at exercise programs which reduce post surgery complications following stoma surgery.
A Metro North Health feasibility study has shown that people living with a post-surgery stoma should undertake an abdominal exercise program to improve quality of life to reduce further complications.
Community and Oral Health Wound Management and Stomal Therapy Nurse Practitioner Monica Stankiewicz said while there is limited evidence around specific exercises for those living with a stoma, half of all people who have a stoma would develop complications due to low physical activity or increased abdominal pressure.
“It is important that we get people moving, especially after abdominal surgery or for those that have a stoma,” Monica said.
“In 2022, staff from Metro North Health and Griffith University came to together to explore, research and implemented a co-designed exercise program for a small group of people living with a stoma.
“The first phase saw the gathering of evidence and perspectives of a large number of participants with a stoma and key professionals to understand the barriers and risks to implementing an exercise program in primary care.
“Nearly two thirds of the 105 surveyed participants indicated concern around injuring themselves or causing a parastomal hernia if they were to perform an exercise routine.”
The second phase of the feasibility study included the implementation of a core abdominal exercise program which was co-designed with ostomates, physiotherapists and communication experts.
“This exercise program aimed to prevent stoma complications through fortnightly face to face education and a tailored daily exercises program delivered by an experienced physiotherapist,” Monica said.
“As part of the feasibility study, 14 participants completed the tailored exercise program reported positive changes in health outcomes including increased physical activity and return to normal / pre-operative physical health.
“We will continue to monitor the long-term complications over the next year.”
Monica said that while the tailored exercise program was safe to deliver, the team will be working to refine the program and looking for opportunities for funding to complete a larger scale study.
Following the successful feasibility study, the research team intend to work with other health care professionals (mostly stomal therapy nurses and physiotherapists) to improve knowledge in this area, thus improving care and consistency in information relating to physical exercise, shared to those living with a stoma.
Metro North Community and Oral Health delivers a Nurse Practitioner-led Chronic Wound and Stoma Service at Chermside Community Health centre which provides clinical care for the prevention, assessment and management of wounds and stomal care.
The service implements care plans and works with GP nurses, community organisations, patients and their families, to support the patient in the community setting.
What is a Stoma?
Following abdominal surgery surgeons may need to create an opening (stoma) in the abdomen which is used to remove bodily waste – faeces or urine – into a small bag.
A parastomal hernia is a complication where abdominal contents such as the bowel protrude at the location of stoma.