Passive Range of Motion (TEAM 4 Growth) Pilot

(Observational Study)

Study Summary

The purpose of this study was to see if a program of gentle physical exercise is safe and helps babies to grow after having surgery to repair their hearts. This is important because many babies born with heart defects have problems growing in the first 6-12 months of life. Problems with growth can affect the health of babies for the rest of their lives.

The study enrolled 20 babies, after heart surgery, to receive passive range of motion exercises for up to 21 days in the hospital, performed by a licensed therapist.

20 Babies

20 babies were enrolled in this study.

Safe and Feasible

We found that the exercise program was safe and feasible.

Larger Study Planned

A larger randomized controlled trial is being planned to evaluate this exercise program.

Who was in the study?

Hospitalized infants with single ventricle physiology who were >37 weeks gestation and <30 days of age who were hemodynamically stable following Norwood procedure with closed chests.

What happened during the study?

This study included:
  1. Medical History: Each baby’s medical chart was reviewed to collect information about surgeries, medical procedures, weights and measurements, and feedings.
  2. Exercise Program: Each baby received 10-15 minutes of gentle exercise each day for as long as he or she was in the hospital or for a maximum of 21 days from a trained expert familiar with handling babies who have had surgery.
  3. Body Measurements: Each baby’s weight was collected from the chart during the hospital stay. In addition, each baby was weighed and measured by the researchers at 3 time points:
    1. Two weeks after beginning the program
    2. After the 21 days of the exercise program or at hospital discharge, whichever came first
    3. Three months of age

What were the results of the study?

In this pilot study, we found that the exercise program was safe and feasible. There was some evidence that the babies grew better when compared to babies with the same heart defect in another study. A larger randomized controlled trial is being planned to further compare the growth of babies who do and do not receive this exercise program.

Study Publications

  • Passive range of motion exercise to enhance growth in infants following the Norwood procedure: a safety and feasibility trial

    L.M. Lambert, Cardiol Young 2017; 27(7):1361-1368.

    This non-randomized pilot study enrolled 20 neonates after surgery for heart repair. The aim was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of a passive range of motion exercise program, administered by trained physical therapists for up to 21 days or until hospital discharge. We found the exercise program to be safe for babies with complex congenital heart disease after surgery and feasible to perform.

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