AYA PHysical Activities

Improving the wellbeing of AYA patients during COVID-19

Activity Tracking Documents
Case Study

Exercise is an important part of a cancer treatment plan. A growing body of research shows that regular exercise is associated with improved physical and mental health during every phase of cancer therapy. Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) often supplement their regularly physical therapy sessions with nonstructured exercise, like walking around the hospital.

Due to COVID19, all oncology patients were limited to their wards or inpatient rooms to limit their risk for infection. These restrictions introduced the need to rethink and redesign our approach to providing AYAs with engaging and age-appropriate opportunities for exercise.

LiveWell Team

1 Faculty Advisor
2 Fellows
1 Graduate Students
1 Co-Op

John Perentesis, MD
Robin Norris, MD
Meghan McGrady, PhD
Jennifer Bernstein, PT, DPT

Two people looking at a bulletin board that has a map and instructionsA person wearing a mask and holding up their phone to scan a QR code from the wallClipboard with the activity tracking documents


To provide opportunities for motivated AYA oncology patients to engage in physical activity despite restrictions due to COVID19.


To engage current members of the patient community to identify unique concerns and needs will be helpful to create useful solutions.


To incorporate building progress measures into solutions in order to help assure accountability, demonstrate improvement, and provide useful data for healthcare staff with creating customized programs for each patient's unique needs.


To assess how highly accessible technologies such as virtual reality, mobile phones, and QR codes can be used to “transport” patients outside the confinement of their room or ward


Patients Engaged

To maximize the likelihood of designing  a patient-centric outcome, members of our Young Adult Oncology Advisory Program were asked to provide feedback during the development process.

Guiding Insights

Patient feedback was synthesized into eleven insights that were used to generate concepts.

Distinct Products

Patient feedback suggested that it was unlikely that a single product would adequately address the range of challenges and needs of our diverse population of patients. As a result, three distinct products were created, each with the ability to measure patient progress and promote dialogue with the healthcare staff.

What We Did
Survey Analysis
Insight Mapping
Print Design
Virtual Reality
Content Creation

Visualizing top concepts for ideation phase
Sketches to help visualize virtual reality concept and how patients would interact with it
Mockup of interactive trail map initial concept to better understand what information would need to be displayed
Creation and assembly of QR codes for activities


A patient-informed creation of a suite of activities to address the challenges and meet the unique needs of AYA oncology patients.

"Their mental health does relate so much to their health, and we try to encourage that through function and routine.”

Jennifer Bernstein, PT, DPT

The suite of activities included three concepts with components to track patient progress,  provide an opportunity for accountability, and adapt to patients with different needs and preferences. While some patients desired tools to help track their progress and keep themselves accountable, others requested specific activities they could do that did not necessarily “feel” like exercise.

The first concept included a series of Virtual Reality apps to encourage activity through indirect means of games and sports. The second concept included QR Routes that may help motivate patients to increase activity by providing them with an opportunity to engage with changing interactive materials as they complete the route. The third concept included an interactive trail map that provides AYAs with tools to help document their activity while creating a friendly competition with their peers to encourage continuous long-term participation.

As patient’s needs and/or preferences change, they can choose to engage in different concepts as they are all designed to work in collaboration. It is our goal that this flexible suite of activities will allow patients to identify physical activity goals and equip them with the tools necessary to achieve these goals.

Physical therapists using the Virtual Reality headset
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