Personalised exercise advice for people with t2 and peripheral neuropathy

Web _Peripheral Neuropathy


If your client lives with type 2 diabetes and has been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, Dr Brooke Coombes may have the offer of a lifetime.


Dr Coombes and researchers at Griffith University and the University of Queensland are recruiting for 20 participants in a study that will evaluate a new approach to managing exercise using the latest technology for people living with type 2 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.


"The volunteers I'm looking for are classically excluded from type 2 diabetes studies because their condition is too complex," Dr Coombes said.


"This is a chance for people who are trying to get active but find that pain or altered sensation in their feet interfere with their efforts."


To be eligible for the program, Dr Coombes said participants must not be using a walking aid and can attend four sessions over a month at the Griffith Uni Nathan campus in Brisbane.


Each session will last for two hours, with input from exercise experts such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist who will offer participants a range of exercises both in a gym and outside.


"We'll be trying different types and intensities of exercises so that each person can see the effects on symptoms and what works best for them," Dr Coombes said.


Health and clinical psychologist Dr Nicola Burton, an expert in behavioural change, will also advise on adopting and then maintaining exercise after the 12-week study is completed. 


Volunteers will learn about Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), a science-based metric that uses heart-rate tracking to optimize the health effects of exercise.


"We'll aim for volunteers to collect 100 PAI points a week," Dr Coombes said. "It's proven that PAI can extend life expectancy by an average of five years, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 per cent."


Points are calculated by the PAI Connect phone app, which is downloaded for free. Volunteers must have a smart phone. Individual data is collected from a free fitness watch (valued at $200).


"Most people with diabetes know that physical activity will help them. When people have peripheral neuropathy, understanding what types of exercise, pain and physical symptoms are safe can get confusing," Dr Coombes said. "Sometimes the nervous system becomes more sensitive so that it overreacts to sensations."


"Generally, we're told that if an exercise or the intensity of the exercise hurts, we should stop. That advice isn't always right when it comes to peripheral neuropathy."


Dr Coombes said some of the accepted wisdom about physical activity doesn't translate for people with type 2 and peripheral neuropathy.


"For example, short bursts of high intensity exercise may be more tolerable for individuals who are unable to exercise for extended periods because of foot symptoms.


"Our program brings together experts from many areas of diabetes research to help individuals get the best results with the lowest risk," Dr Coombes said.


The research will start after the first 10 people have been recruited.


If you have clients who may be interested in joining this research, ask them to click on this link to check if they're eligible or for further information.

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