Hemophilia Patients Celebrate Fitness Day at Medical Wellness Center

Historically, hemophilia patients have rarely been able to play sports or engage in other potentially risky activities enjoyed by their unaffected peers. Teaching them how to exercise safely was the goal of “Hemophilia Fitness Day” at the Medical Wellness Center, where faculty and staff from the Department of Physical Therapy hosted an excited group of teens and young adults for a day.

Hemophilia, a hereditary disorder of the blood-clotting system characterized by a lack of one of the body’s 12 clotting factors, causes what would be a minor cut or bruise for most people to bleed excessively, threatening life or limb. But thanks to treatment advances, including intravenous infusions of clotting factor concentrates and access to dedicated hemophilia treatment centers, hemophiliacs can participate in a broader range of physical activity.

At the August 17 day of exercise and education, members of the Department of Physical Therapy — including Eryn Apanovitch, D.P.T., Kevin Mills, D.P.T., Alexyz Milian, D.P.T., and Teresa Glynn, D.P.T., Vice Chair for Clinical Services — taught participants about the benefits of exercise, how to measure their vital signs and, most importantly, condition-specific guidelines for safely participating in physical activities.

The group then got to experience – some for the first time – a gym-based fitness routine that included beginning, intermediate and advanced exercises for arms, legs and core as they moved through different stations at the Medical Wellness Center.

Glynn credited the event’s success to Joanna Davis, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics and Medical Director of the Pediatric Hemophilia Treatment Center, and the dedication of an amazing physical therapy team.

“The physical therapy team put a significant amount of time and effort to bring Dr. Davis’ vision to life,” Glynn said. “It was a truly memorable day.”

“Commercial gyms and trainers are usually not familiar or comfortable with devising a regimen that accommodates limitations imposed by either the underlying hemophilia, or by joint damage which might have already occurred,” Davis said. “Our goal was to provide education and instruction for individuals with hemophilia to support their interest in living more physically active lives. Because of a remarkable collaboration between two UHealth divisions, we were able to accomplish that goal and provide yet another aspect of excellent patient care.”

Participants also received a UHealth gym bag with resistance bands, cold packs, and an exercise DVD.

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