Mackenzie Buchanan

Supervisor: Michael Khoury

Project: Testing the MedBIKE™ for children who received heart transplants

“In addition to my direct contributions to the MedBIKE study, this studentship provided the unexpected opportunity to undertake the lead author role in a literature review.”

Lower fitness levels can be a barrier to the long-term health and well-being of children who have received heart transplantation (HT). While exercise programs have the potential to improve fitness in children with HTs, the practicality of these programs is constrained by the need for medical supervision, and program effectiveness requires further investigation. The MedBIKE, which is a video game-linked, telemedicine-enabled exercise bike, has demonstrated positive responses to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) among children with severe heart conditions. This study is investigating whether HIIT using the MedBIKE is similarly successful among children who have received HT.

This project will include children between 10 and 18 years old, who have received HT at least six months prior. Participants' baseline physical activity levels, attitudes towards physical activity, and fitness are assessed with wearable activity monitoring devices, questionaries, and exercise tests. Randomization then distributes participants into a group that receives the MedBIKE treatment first and a control group that receives normal care for the same period before receiving the MedBIKE treatment. Using a MedBIKE installed in their home, the treatment group performs HIIT three times per week for 12 weeks. A healthcare professional remotely supervises and modifies training session difficulty. Following 12 weeks of HIIT training or standard care, all participants’ physical activity levels, attitudes towards exercise, and fitness levels are remeasured. The control group then participates in the same 12-week exercise program and another round of follow-up testing.

This clinical randomized controlled trial remains ongoing. In lieu of completed data collection, however, anecdotal observations of positive participant exercise experiences and improved fitness anticipate the overall realization of study objectives following formal data analysis. We hope our eventual findings will promote safe, effective, and accessible exercise opportunities for children who have received HT.

Mackenzie Buchanan was supervised by Michael Khoury and his summer studentship was funded by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science Kinesiology program.