Can physiotherapy help you get back into sports after a liver transplant?

Can physiotherapy help you get back into sports after a liver transplant?

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What causes liver transplant ?

A liver transplant is usually done incase of liver diseases when all options have failed. Lets look into what a liver disease is. Liver disease is a general term that refers to any condition affecting the liver. These conditions may develop for different reasons, but they can all damage the liver and impact its function.
The following are the most common etiologies:
• Alcoholic Liver Disease
• Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
• Chronic viral hepatitis
• Genetic causes
• Drugs
• Idiopathic


• jaundice
• dark urine
• pale, bloody, or black stool
• edema
• nausea
• vomiting
• decreased appetite
• ongoing fatigue
• itchy skin
• easy bruising


Lifestyle changes are enough to keep symptoms at bay
• limiting alcohol
• maintaining a healthy weight
• drinking more water
• adopting a liver-friendly diet that includes plenty of fiber while reducing fat, sugar, and salt

In some cases surgery may be used to remove all or part of the liver, incase medical management and lifestyle modifications fail.
The value of exercise has been recognized for the following liver benefits:
• Reduced risk of scarring and cirrhosis
• Reduced incidence of obesity
• Elevated mood as depression is a common problem
• Enhanced blood oxygenation – which creates a higher functioning liver.
• Strength-training supports muscle growth and can prevent or delay the severe muscle wasting
• Improved energy

Exercise program

• Aerobic exercises like walking, bicycling, jogging and swimming will improve your cardiovascular system’s ability to oxygenate your blood and deliver it to the liver and the rest of the body.
• Strength training helps maintain bone mass, increases muscle strength and mass, and helps prevent weight gain through elevation of the metabolism..

Sports participation
Post-transplant sports participation can maximize your quality of life. This is encouraged 3 months after the surgery. This time is required to achieve optimal flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance and aerobic capacity and to provide proper post-operative wound healing and graft stabilization so that you can do sports without any deterioration.

You will be made to start with light activities like walking, stair climbing, golf, bowling, darts, archery and fishing. Table tennis and volleyball will be suggested as medium intensity activities. Swimming, athletics, badminton, cycling, rowing, squashes, tennis, mini-marathon will be recommended after getting used to  light and moderate activities. However, swimming in community pools or lakes is not recommended because of high risk of infectious organisms.

High impact and contact sports such as football, basketball, horse riding and bungee jumping are not preferable as they may cause a serious trauma and lead to organ damage. Contact sports also have an additional fracture risk for weight bearing bones due to long term osteoporotic effects of corticosteroids.

You may participate in a sport not only for a leisure time activity but also for
professional competitions. The World Transplant Games Federation, officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee, is a world-wide organization staging international sporting events for transplant athletes for over 20 years in order to demonstrate the ability of sports participation after organ transplantation and to raise awareness of the vitality of organ donation

In conclusion, a well-planned exercise regime tailored to your needs is required before and after liver transplantation in order to prevent muscle and bone loss, delay cardiovascular complications and compete with excessive physical fatigue.

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