Is an Exercise Program for Pediatric Cancer Patients in Palliative Care Feasible and Supportive? : A Case Series

Background: Growing evidence indicates benefits through exercise programs in pediatric oncology throughout the whole cancer trajectory. This should include palliative care, too. This project analyzes the feasibility of a supervised exercise program offered during hospital and home-based care for children with advanced cancer diagnoses.

Methods: Four children (7–13 years old) with advanced cancer diagnoses participated in this project. It consisted of supervised exercise sessions offered once a week (30–90 min), mainly home-based, but also on an in- and outpatient basis. Regular data assessments included psychological and physical capacity-related endpoints and body composition. Details and contents of exercise sessions and adverse events were recorded.

Results: Exercise was feasible with 73 ± 9% adherence to the minimum number of planned sessions. The exercise offer was accepted until shortly before death. Effects on fatigue, quality of life and muscular endurance were noted. Participants showed major deviations from age-specific reference values. No exercise-related adverse events occurred.

Conclusions: The exercise program was safe, feasible, and might have served as a supportive tool to reduce overall burden. Evaluation of exercise as usual palliative care should be assessed by further studies.


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