Two Vall d’Hebron studies receive grants to study the benefit of exercise in bariatric surgery

The research has received funding from the Spanish Society of Obesity Surgery and the Spanish Association of Surgeons.


The Spanish Society of Obesity Surgery (SECO) and the Spanish Association of Surgeons (AEC) have recently granted two studies promoted by the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) to investigate the benefit of physical exercise in people undergoing bariatric surgery.

SECO grant for the study of gamification

SECO has awarded the 'Multidisciplinary Team Research for Bariatric Patient Care' grant to a project that will analyse the effectiveness of gamified physical exercise programmes to prevent loss of muscle mass in patients after bariatric surgery. Sarcopenia, or extreme loss of muscle mass, is a risk associated with bariatric operation. However, no specific exercise programme has been tested and designed to reduce or prevent this loss of muscle mass using gamification.

To conduct the study, a six-month exercise plan has been developed for the patient to start prior to surgery and continue throughout the post-operative period. In order to improve patient compliance and involvement, gamification philosophy will be applied to create 'serious games'. Dr Ramon Vilallonga, Head of the Endocrine, Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Unit at Vall de Hebron University Hospital and Principal Investigator of the General Surgery Group at the Vall de Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), says that the main hypothesis of the study is that "following a physical training programme using gamification technology will influence the physical fitness, the muscle quantity and quality, and quality of life of the patients".

The promoting centre of this initiative is the Vall de Hebron University Hospital, and other 6 hospitals will joint it, all centres have different sizes but all have accredited surgeons and are approved by SECO. The centres are: Althaia of Manresa, Hospital Inca of Majorca, Hospital of Vic, Bellvitge Barcelona Hospital University de Barcelona, Hospital of Almeria and Hospital San Juan of Reus. The technological part will be carried out by the Euneiz University of Vitoria, a leader in the field of new technologies, video games and 'serious games', as well as in the field of physiotherapy, physical activity and sport. The first phase of the study is expected to start this autumn.

The Foundation of the Spanish Society of Obesity Surgery (FUNSECO) has announced five grants to promote research among its members. Two of these are for multidisciplinary studies, with a total of €9,000 each.

AEC grant to research the benefits of prehabilitation

In the same vein, the ACS has awarded 10,000€ to Vall d'Hebron for a randomized multicenter study on sarcopenic obesity and the implementation of a physical prehabilitation program in bariatric surgery. In this case, the aim is to study the benefit of carrying out programmed exercises under the support of the rehabilitation and physiotherapy team. The differences compared to the recommendations usually given to these patients will be analyzed.

This work is led by hospitals in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Madrid (Hospital of Inca, Vic, Reus, Manresa and Hospital Infanta Sofia in Madrid). Dr. Clara Pañella, associate of the Endocrine, Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Unit of Vall d'Hebron Hospital and researcher of the General Surgery group of VHIR is the principal investigator, with the support of Dr. Ramon Vilallonga.

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