As a medical professional treating neuropathy patients, you know how vital it is that your patients remain as physically active as possible. 

Talk with your patients about their expectations and make sure they understand their limitations.

Autonomic neuropathy[1] makes that a little more difficult because this specific type of neuropathy can seriously impact the very systems that are directly affected by exercise.
As a NeuropathyDR® clinician, an exercise program is a vital part of your treatment regimen.  With your autonomic neuropathy patients, you have to be especially careful in both designing and monitoring their exercise program to ensure that they receive the full benefit of the exercise and don’t do more harm than good.
Exercise On A Case By Case Basis
Any exercise program for an autonomic neuropathy[2] patient should be designed for their specific symptoms and circumstances. Talk with your patients about their expectations and make sure they understand their limitations and what their anticipated outcome can be. 
To be most effective, the exercise program you design should include recommendations on:

  • Intensity
  • Type
  • Duration
  • Frequency
  • Controlling when they move to the next level

Most healthy people keep an eye on their heart rate when exercising.  For autonomic neuropathy patients, the heart rate is not a good indicator of the intensity of exercise because their heart rate is already depressed. 
Make sure your autonomic neuropathy patient is interested in the exercise you prescribe.  If you prescribe exercises that they have no interest in or can’t do, the program is doomed to failure.  Some of the best exercises are stationary cycling, semi-recumbent cycling and water exercises. Even sitting in chair and doing light weight exercises is better than doing no exercise at all.
Your autonomic neuropathy patients may have a seriously decreased tolerance for exercise simply because their heart and lungs aren’t functioning properly.  Your exercise program should take this into account and not be too ambitious in the beginning.  Make sure you have a firm grasp of their tolerance for exertion.
If you want your autonomic neuropathy patients to have a successful exercise program, make sure you are both realistic in your expectations.  In order to make it a habit, daily exercise is the most effective.  If at all possible, advise your patients to do some kind of exercise every day.  If they can do it, great but don’t allow them to become discouraged if they can’t.  Just adapt to what they can do.
Moving to the Next Level


This can be one of the more challenging concepts in designing an exercise program for your autonomic neuropathy patients.  You don’t want them to be bored but you don’t want them to overexert themselves. Instead of attempting something more difficult, think about just increasing how often they exercise at first.  Then build to a more intense level of exercise. 
Early intervention with a physician well versed in treating all types of neuropathy, like a NeuropathyDR® clinician, is still the best course of action for an Autonomic Neuropathy patient.  While you can’t reverse your patient’s condition if they have already developed autonomic neuropathy, you can help them achieve a better quality of life and lessen the chance of severe and possibly fatal complications.
Let us help you reach these patients and treat them.
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