When a child suffers from cancer, the parents, family, and doctors will go above and beyond to promote healing and recovery. As with adult cancer patients, children also benefit immensely from adding physical therapy to their treatment plan. The reason for adding physical therapy is not to assist in the removal of the cancer; it is to maintain strength and movement, reduce pain, and to support participation in activities while the child undergoes chemotherapy and other treatments (ChoosePT). When physical therapy is integrated into childhood cancer treatment plans, it can be involved in both the fight and the recovery.
During active cancer treatments, the patient’s physical fitness suffers immensely:
“Impaired physical fitness typically includes reduced cardiopulmonary function, decreased muscle strength, fatigue, and altered physical function. Treatments for childhood cancer, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, can result in acute and long-term injury to the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles, systems necessary for optimal physical fitness.” (NCBI)
It is essential to integrate physical therapy into the cancer treatment plan as an early intervention to maintain as much existing strength and endurance as possible. Early intervention can also prevent an aggressive loss in mobility and cardiovascular function during the initial treatments.
When remission is accomplished, it is time to celebrate, and it is also time to continue helping the body fully recover. Even with the cancer being eradicated, the body is still damaged from the intense treatment that it endured during the fight:
“…reduced levels of physical activity both during and after treatment for childhood cancer can contribute to cardiac deconditioning and skeletal muscle atrophy, ultimately limiting opportunities for participation in recreational activities and life roles that are dependent on adequate physical fitness.” (NCBI)
As parents, you want your child to be able to fully recover from their cancer and live a full, happy life. Working with a Physical Therapist, you can help them accomplish this and go on to do everything the other children their age can do.
Through physical therapy, childhood cancer survivors are able to claim independence, strengthen their bodies, and heal the physical damage that can linger after their recovery. If you would like more information on how physical therapy might be able to help your child, please reach out to our team today.