An in-hospital and home exercise physical therapy program during the first four phases of medical treatments is feasible for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), say authors of a study published online ahead of print January 16 in Pediatric Blood & Cancer.
Nine patients between the ages of 2-14 years old were enrolled within 2 weeks of diagnosis in the study. Each patient was evaluated at study entry, after each of the first 4 phases of therapy, and each time patients were re-admitted to the hospital. Following the initial physical therapy evaluation, an individualized home exercise program was developed, consisting of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises. The following end points were measured at each evaluation -- gross motor assessment as measured by gross motor function measure (GMFM), health-related quality of life as measured by the PedsQL, and parent satisfaction questionnaire.
This study was feasible with 98% of the evaluation sessions completed. The GMFM and PedsQL improved steadily throughout the study. However, the PedsQL slightly decreased from interim maintenance to delayed intensification. The parents reported being satisfied with the physical therapy program.
Future randomized studies are needed to confirm whether an initial physical therapy program at diagnosis in children with ALL will limit functional impairments, improve overall fitness, and increase health-related quality of life, the authors report.