Safety and Feasibility of Exercise Rehabilitation in Children with Ventricular Assist Devices.
Year of Publication
2022 Feb 08
<p>Children with advanced heart failure may require ventricular assist devices (VAD) while awaiting heart transplantation. Currently, no data exist regarding the safety of exercise rehabilitation (ER) in children on VAD support. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety and feasibility of ER in children on VAD support awaiting heart transplantation. Eligible patients underwent VAD placement between 1998 and 2019; both inpatient and outpatient participants were included. After VAD implantation and when ambulatory, patients were enrolled in ER. Exercise sessions were scheduled three times a week and consisted of aerobic and musculoskeletal conditioning. A total of 29 patients (59% male, mean age 14 ± 3.2 years) were included with a median VAD duration of 120 ± 109 days. Cardiac diagnoses included cardiomyopathy (81%) and congenital heart disease (19%). VAD type included pulsatile (59%) and continuous-flow devices (41%). Eight hundred and sixty-four (85%) ER sessions were successfully completed and began at a mean of 49 days (range 19-108) after VAD implant. No adverse events, including episodes of hypotension, significant complex arrhythmia, or VAD malfunction occurred during exercise testing or ER, and no sessions were discontinued prematurely. Pediatric patients on VAD support can safely participate in ER with relatively high compliance, and sessions can be implemented early after VAD implantation. Given the safety profile, ER in pediatric VAD recipients, which is a modifiable pre-transplant risk factor that may improve functional capacity, warrants further study as a potential modality to improve post-transplant outcomes.</p>