An Interview with Dr Mathew Doyle
Cardiothoracic registrar, Master of Philosophy candidate at the University of Wollongong and the recipient of a Baird Institute scholarship
What is your research topic?
My research project is entitled “eccentric cycling to address skeletal muscle dysfunction after cardiac surgery”. This research involves the development and construction of an eccentric cycling exercise bike, followed by testing the hypothesis that eccentric cycling can improve leg muscle function in patients after heart surgery.
What is the aim of your research?
The aims of my research are threefold:
- To perform a systematic review of the current literature into the safety and efficacy of aerobic exercise performed early in the postoperative period of patients following cardiac surgery.
- To develop and construct an eccentric cycling machine that can be used in a hospital at the bedside
- Performing eccentric cycling in patients following cardiac surgery and assess its effectiveness in improving leg muscle function prior to leaving hospital.
The systematic review was performed and identified that exercise performed early after cardiac surgery is safe and improves functional capacity. As there was no commercially available eccentric cycle machine that could be easily used to deliver the exercise for patients in a hospital ward, we then moved to designing and constructing a cycling machine that could be used for this purpose. A second study was then performed that described the design of this ergometer and demonstrated it was able to safely and repeatedly deliver the eccentric cycling exercise. The final stage of my research was for patients to perform eccentric cycling exercise bouts patients after coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), and asses its impact on leg muscle function.
What is the potential impact of your research?
The big focus of this project is the type of cycling we are asking patients to do. My research uses “eccentric” cycling. In this type of cycling, a small motor in the exercise bike drives the pedals in a backwards direction, while the patients have to try and resist the pedals or slow the pedals down as they turn towards them. This type of exercise is very appealing for patients after heart surgery as the oxygen required to perform this type of exercise is much less than normal forward cycling. Patients can therefore work their leg muscles without stressing the heart and lungs.
Even simple activities such as walking can be too strenuous for some patients. The application of this novel form of exercise may provide elderly, frail and unwell patients with a means of improving their functional capacity at a fraction of the cardiac and metabolic requirements of more traditional exercise modalities. If we demonstrate this type of exercise to be effective and safe, it may be more widely applied to many other hospitalised populations.
How has the scholarship from The Baird Institute helped you?
The support of The Baird institute scholarship has been invaluable to my research. It has allowed me to access statistical software required to perform analysis of the captured data. It has provided me the opportunity to undergo training in database compilation while also allowing me to provide training to other health professionals required to assist in the study. Finally, the scholarship has allowed me to present the early findings of my research at both local and international conferences. Being face to face with other world leaders in this field of postoperative surgical care has provided me with a new network of experts and collaborators that will continue to drive future research.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the supporters of the Baird Institute – it is you who has made my research possible. I very much look forward to the opportunity of sharing the final results with you all once this project is completed.