Physiotherapy is an integral component to the rehabilitation of transplant patients. Patients are routinely referred to physiotherapy both before and after transplant surgery to assess and treat chest and mobility concerns or issues. Patients can be seen while in hospital or as an outpatient. All patients require a physician’s referral to be followed by physiotherapy.

Prior to being put on the waiting list, a patient may be seen by the physiotherapist to assess his or her current physical status and identify problems that may cause an added risk to transplant. While on the waiting list, patients in the hospital are seen daily (Monday through Friday) for an exercise program so that their physical condition can be maximized, thereby helping to minimize surgical risk when the transplant occurs.

While waiting for their transplant, patients are encouraged to continue their exercise program. One way that we help with this is by offering a unique telerehabilitation program – TONE – Transplant ONline Exercise. This program encourages patients who are at home, waiting for their transplant to exercise via video conference two or three times weekly. By joining the physio class in this virtual way, they can perform their exercises with supervision and encouragement.

All heart and liver transplant recipients are followed by physiotherapy after transplant. In non-complicated cases, patients are seen the day after surgery. They are given assistance to sit on the edge of their bed so deep breathing exercises can begin. The patient progresses to sitting in a chair the next day and walking by day three. Most patients start an exercise program by day five.

On discharge from the hospital, recipients continue to come into the hospital so their exercise program can progress. Exercise programs, which are tailored to the individual patient, involve both aerobic and resistance training. Other exercises may be added at the discretion of the physiotherapist.

The transplant exercise gym is located across from the Transplant Unit and close to the Outpatient Clinic. Generously supported by donations from numerous patients and families as well as a sizeable gift from Dr. Kostuk, the gym is well equipped with free weights, exercise bikes and a treadmill. The exercise programs are supervised and progressed by the transplant physiotherapist and kinesiologist.