Press Release

22 August 2014

A new project to help patients recover their physical abilities after cancer surgery has been awarded 340,000 pounds from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Dr Ian Swaine
Dr Ian Swaine

Dr Ian Swaine, from Canterbury Christ Church University, has succeeded in bringing together a group of researchers from across Kent to be part of the project called ‘BETTER’ (Basic Exercise Training to Enhance Recovery). Members of the research group specialise in diverse topics such as surgery, physiotherapy, nursing, health studies and exercise science.

The project is the first of its kind to focus on the debilitating problems associated with loss of physical strength related to the after effects of stomach and chest surgery for cancer. This type of surgery can lead people to have difficulty going about their normal daily activities such as getting dressed or sitting upright. The aim of the project is to help patients regain their physical ability through the development of an innovative exercise programme.

The project is a feasibility study that will start this autumn and run for three years. It will be hosted by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, focusing on a small number of patients based mainly at Maidstone Hospital. If it is found to be successful, it could lead to a full-scale multi-centre randomised clinical trial with a view to it being implemented across the country, within the NHS.

Dr Swaine, Reader in the School of Human and life Sciences, explained: “Many patients undergoing abdominal or thoracic (chest) surgery for cancer experience serious debilitation, which prevents them from carrying out everyday activities for months after. The effects of this type of surgery are life-changing and we aim to help them to get better and to return to their daily routines as soon as possible.  

“This particular type of surgery affects the muscle strength of the abdomen, torso and chest. It is this part of the body which enables us to perform essential everyday tasks and general movement, such as getting out of a chair, getting dressed and reaching for various items around the home. Even sitting or standing upright uses these parts of the body and they can be severely affected by the surgery.

“At the moment there is no consistent approach within the NHS to provide patients with an exercise programme to help them get better by regaining their physical abilities after surgery. This is what the project aims to achieve.

“I am especially pleased to have succeeded in bringing together such a diverse group of experts to make-up this remarkable research team and to get involved in prestigious clinical research work which is aimed at bringing benefit to patients in Kent.”

Researchers from the Department of Surgery at Maidstone Hospital, Department of Physiotherapy at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent, and Health Economics at Middlesex University will join with Ian and other academics from Canterbury Christ Church University to work on the study.

Notes to Editor

  • The project’s full title: ‘Development of a perioperative resistance exercise intervention programme (Basic Exercise Training to Enhance Recovery: BETTER) for patients undergoing elective abdominal and thoracic surgery for cancer’.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:16:00