Children who are treated for cancer are at risk for decreased functional status both during and after their treatment. Decreased physical function due to treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), lymphoma, solid tumors, and CNS tumors may lead to decreased overall activity levels and an increased risk of obesity, decreased bone mineral density, and later in life cardiovascular disease. Now that the vast majority of children survive cancer treatment, we must understand the physical deficits that this treatment brings and intervene in order to maintain normal motor development and improve their quality of life during and after treatment.
Treatment for childhood cancer can be quite intense and often is prolonged over months and years. In addition to the potential impact of surgery and radiation therapy, chemotherapeutic agents that are known to be toxic to the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal system are commonly used in childhood cancer. More specifically, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) can affect children and adolescents during and after cancer treatment and is likely related to functional outcomes. Physical therapists must understand cancer-related impairments and choose appropriate outcome measurements in order to design a successful plan of care. In our presentation we will: 1) Describe the disease process, epidemiology, and typical treatment regimen for childhood leukemias, lymphomas, and solid tumors including CNS tumors 2) discuss the current literature and our ongoing research on CIPN, physical impairments and motor performance deficits in children, adolescents, and survivors of these childhood cancers; 3) describe possible outcome measurements appropriate to these populations; 4) discuss the evidence base for and practical application of intervention techniques to address common physical impairments and function; 5) provide lab time to practice assessment and intervention techniques with volunteer patients and 6) present case studies that portray the clinical relevance of the course material.