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Disclaimer: InBody devices should be used as an adjunct for clinical decision-making and are not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases.

The University of Northern Colorado Cancer Rehabilitation Institute (UNCCRI) was established in 1996 by Dr. Carole Schneider to investigate the role exercise plays in the rehabilitation of cancer survivors. The Institute is the only facility of its kind and is recognized as a frontrunner in exercise-based cancer rehabilitation.  The Institute offers and national and international educational programs along with public and private sector consulting services that teach others how to implement and manage cancer rehabilitation centers, establishing UNCCRI as a leader in the field. 

Needing a tool that would accurately measure the cancer population and enhance the quality of their exercise prescriptions, UNCCRI trialed and ultimately brought in an InBody 770 into their facility. Using InBody’s Segmental Lean Analysis and other body composition outputs, the specialists at UNCCRI were able to improve upon their exercise prescriptions and help their cancer survivors reach their rehabilitation goals, reflected in an 87% session attendance rate and a 66% overall program retention rate.

A Unique Solution for a Complex Disease

The Cancer Exercise Specialists at the University of Northern Colorado Cancer Rehabilitation Institute have only one goal: to help their cancer survivors repair their bodies from the harsh after-effects of cancer and cancer therapy. They aim to help their survivors regain functional strength: the ability to do the little things in life, like go grocery shopping, push a lawnmower, or simply pick up a laundry basket. To do this, they prescribe exercise in the same way another facility might prescribe medicine because at UNCRRI, exercise is the medicine.

However, the exercise regimens UNCCRI prescribes are only as good as their ability to identify where damage has been done, and the cancer survivor population presents some unique diagnostic and testing challenges. Each individual responds to cancer and cancer treatments differently, making it very difficult to place patients into neatly defined categories and prescribe treatment accordingly. That’s why in the summer of 2015, Dr. Daniel Shackelford – research coordinator at UNCCRI – and his colleagues turned to the InBody 770.

“On every single prescription, we have certain complications and problems that are unique to that client,” said Dr. Shackelford. “Because of the InBody machine, we are able to prescribe more detailed therapies [and] more precise exercise interventions that can really help with certain complications.”

Because of those unique complications, UNCRRI needed a tool that would not only provide the insight needed to prescribe exercise, but also be specific enough to accurately analyze the body composition of a cancer survivor. They found that tool in the InBody 770.

Matching Exercise to Repair Each Segment

As medical professionals, the Cancer Exercise Specialists at UNCCRI need to have complete confidence in any device they use with their patients. InBody’s tight correlation with DEXA/DXA helped to alleviate initial concerns about using a BIA device – Shackelford had previously had unsatisfactory results using handheld BIA machines – as did InBody’s ability to achieve accurate results without any reliance on population-specific formulas that can distort the results for sensitive groups, like cancer survivors.

However, what ultimately convinced him of the utility of the InBody was the Segmental Lean Analysis portion of the InBody Result Sheet.

“We already knew it gave us very, very accurate data, but what was also kind of a tipping point was the [type of] data that it gave us. It gave us the lean body tissue [in] the arms or the legs, as well as the core – the segmental analysis,” said Dr. Shackelford. “That’s really helped us with writing our prescriptions: knowing which part(s) of the body has been affected the most by cancer treatments.”

Segmental Lean Analysis has granted Shackelford and his colleagues deeper insights and measurable values that help them confirm and quantify the rate of improvement for specific types of cancer so that they reach their goals faster.

“Take for example, for a breast cancer survivor, if they have had a mastectomy or radiation to the left side of the chest, we can tell with the InBody that they have a reduced amount of lean tissue in that section. Because of that, we’re able to write detailed information and suggestions to help increase muscle mass in the affected side,” said Shackelford.

Shackelford recalled a specific breast cancer survivor, whose functional strength goal was simply to pick up a basket of laundry without pain or fatigue. “When we put her on the InBody, we saw that her arms had very low lean muscle tissue, and so that confirmed with us [to work on] her upper body and really help her accomplish those goals.”

Before, Shackelford may have described a more general whole body workout. But with the InBody, he was able to target and track Lean Body Mass increases in the arms to help her reach her goal much quicker and more efficiently.

“Because of other InBody Machine, we are able to prescribe more detailed therapies [and] more precise exercise interventions that can really help with certain complications.”

Improving Patient Care with the Tools Needed To Provide It

UNCCRI’s program is divided into four Phases, each of approximately three months, during which patients work on their physical and psychological recovery goals. The goal for each client is to get them to progress through each Phase successfully, with the hope of meeting the client’s goals in about 9 months to a year.

This can only happen if clients attend their sessions with their specialist, and monitoring attendance rates are a key indicator of whether clients feel like they are truly recovering with the exercise program. In Dr. Shackelford’s experience, he notes that similar clinics have average attendance rates of between 25-50%. As of last month (May 2016), UNCCRI posted an 87% attendance rate – the highest rate in the institute’s 20-year history.

Complementing this success is the retention rate – the rate at which clients choose to progress to the next Phase once the previous Phase has concluded. In 2013, UNCCRI was averaging 55% of patients choosing to progress. It’s now up to 66%.

Dr. Shackelford credits UNCCRI’s success to the individualized attention they can provide with their array of tools, including the InBody 770.  “Other facilities don’t have all the tools that we have,” he said. “They don’t have all the necessary equipment to really write exercise prescriptions as accurately as us, or the experienced and qualified Cancer Exercise Specialists to achieve the results we want. They don’t have that individualized aspect that we have in our program.”

Looking back on their decision to bring in the InBody 770 to help them better work with their patients, Dr. Shackelford found that InBody delivered on its promises. “It’s been about a year since we’ve had it now, since the trial run, and just having it for a year has pretty much confirmed all our thoughts…about it being accurate and helping us develop our prescriptions.

“In fact, we have already convinced a few other clinics offering exercise-based cancer rehabilitation to purchase their own InBody devices,” he added.

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