Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, affecting around 30% of all cases of childhood cancer, closely followed by central nervous system tumours (25%). Other childhood cancers include Neuroblastoma, Retinoblastoma, soft tissue sarcomas, lymphomas and bone tumours; all of which are extremely harmful however with the increase in modern medicine, nearly three quarters of children diagnosed with cancer can now be cured. Occupational therapists can help children improve their function and reach the goals that they want to achieve, increasing their happiness and quality of life.
Does your child have any of the following difficulties?
Childhood cancer occurs in many forms, but results in common effects and side effects that have a detrimental effect on your child's occupational health and wellbeing. Some examples include:
- Weight loss
- Changes to skin sensitivity and integrity
- Finds clothes uncomfortable
- Cognitive difficulties
How can these difficulties impact on function?
Side effects of cancer, its treatment and long periods of hospitalisation can result in physical, cognitive or habitual changes which impact upon a child's occupational wellbeing. Some examples of how cancer can affect life at home, in school and/or socially are listed below:
- Difficulty concentrating on homework
- Finds it hard to use cutlery without causing pain
- Difficulty concentrating on school work
- Fatigued easily
- Pain impacts the demanding school timetable
Cancer has a certain stigma which other children are aware of and may make fun of
Can become isolated or without friends of their age
Occupational therapy can be used to address any of the above issues. Working with an occupational therapist gives your child a chance to reach the goals that they want to achieve. An example goal could be to want to reply to their friends on a computer or be able to get dressed independently, and the occupational therapist can help children achieve this.
What exactly is Childhood Cancer?
Cancer is a mutation or unregulated growth of human cells and is the third biggest killer in the U.K. In cancer, cells grow and divide uncontrollably, the body cannot naturally stop the cells growing, often leading to tumours and growths.
Cancerous cells can develop due to a poor diet, genetically or for no known reason.
Cancer can be detected in a number of ways: by noticing the symptoms of cancer, medical imagery, screening tests or through your local GP. It is usually diagnosed through blood sampling or tissue analysis.
Around 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the U.K, this translates to roughly 1 in every 600 children aged under 15.
Occupational therapy treatment available for Childhood Cancer
Occupational therapy enables children to participate fully in the activities of life, covering self-care (e.g. dressing, grooming, feeding and toileting) productivity (e.g. school, writing) and play or leisure. Occupational therapists can assess for difficulty in these areas and provide treatment to enable both children's occupational participation and well-being. Childhood cancer can also cause developmental delays and/or deficits, occupational therapists can pinpoint these and provide rehabilitation to enable the child to return to school. Some of the benefits of OT are listed below:
- Coping strategies
- Pacing and energy conservation
- Fatigue management
- Support and education for parents/carers
- Provision of equipment
- Environmental adaptation
- Fine motor improvement Therapy
- Wheelchair prescription and training
In summary Childhood cancer occurs in many forms, but results in common effects and side effects that have a detrimental effect on your child's occupational health and wellbeing. Occupational therapy enables children to participate fully in the activities of life, covering self-care (e.g. dressing, grooming, feeding and toileting) productivity (e.g. school, writing) and play or leisure. Working with an occupational therapist gives your child a chance to reach the goals that they want to achieve.
How to arrange to see a paediatric occupational therapist?
If your child has Cancer or you think that they may have some of the symptoms, our occupational therapists can help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0330 223 0888 for a referral or to simply talk about the concerns you may have for your child.
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