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Medical Trauma And Pediatric Cancer Patients

Cancer is an extremely common disease, even in young children. Medical trauma can be the result of a diagnosis, procedure, or treatment in pediatric cancer patients. These trauma symptoms developed can have long-term negative effects on the child. A systematic search of literature was conducted in order to find the most effective treatment for medical trauma in young cancer patients. Interventions and treatments will be able to decrease the trauma symptoms many young cancer patients obtain throughout their medical treatment. The results of the systematic search from three different databases were several hundred articles that were eventually narrowed down to eight. From the eight articles, various interventions were considered. After the comprehensive search and an intense analysis of data, Programmed Physical Exercise was the chosen treatment to be the most effective for medical trauma in young cancer patients. This topic is extremely important as childhood years are imperative in development and growth leading to a successful future. More research needs to be done in this area in order to fully grasp the prevalence and statistical significance of the data collected.

Programmed Physical Exercise is the recommended treatment for medical trauma in young cancer patients. More research needs to be done on this topic though as searching for relevant articles and intervention practices was extremely challenging. As stated in one of the articles found, “Distress rates are not often documented and may not be acknowledged as often as they should…” (Urbanski et al., 2012).

Medical treatment tends to be viewed as a healing process not a harmful one, and “it has only been in recent years that social workers, researchers, and other health care professionals have begun understanding the ways that medical interventions and interactions with medical staff during times of crisis can result in severe and persistent traumatic stress” (Janssen, 2017). While Programmed Physical Exercise was concluded to be the most effective treatment for medical trauma in young cancer patients, everyone is different and deserves the best treatment available, fit for their specific needs and limitations.

Programmed Physical Exercise (PPE) Treatment for Medical Trauma

  • A Non-Pharmacological Intervention

  • Promising strategy to reduce fatigue, stress, and other trauma symptoms with greater efficacy than psychosocial interventions

  • Varied from 6-16 week training at home, hospital; daily or multiple times a day, implemented by nurses and physical therapists

  • Specific PPE determined case by case

EXAMPLES: Stationary bike for 30 min twice a day for 2-4 days at hospital // 2 weekly supervised training sessions, 45min/session (Lopes-Junior et al., 2015).

  • Participating in an exercise active program has shown to improve physical function, increase quality of life, and reduce the cancer related fatigue in children with cancer

  • Sedentary lifestyles in cancer patients increase risks to mental and physical health

  • PPE can significantly improve quality of life if engaged in consistently

  • Parental involvement is imperative

Other Recommended Treatments

  • Pet Therapy: human and animal interaction can be beneficial when patients experience anxiety, pain, and other stress related symptoms.

Limitations: allergies, medical equipment interference, open wounds, sterile environment, aggressive tendencies (Urbanski et al., 2012).

  • Non-Pharmacological Interventions: consists of music therapy, healing touch, therapeutic massage, nursing interventions, and health education.

Limitations: motivation, consistent participation, support from parents (Lopes-Junior et al., 2015)

  • Play Therapy: "The systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development" (Association for Play Therapy) Check out our other blog post, What Is Play Therapy? to learn more!


Association for Play Therapy. <>

Lopes-Junior, L. C., Bomfim, E. O., Nascimento, L. C., Nunes, M. D. R., Pereira-

da-Silva, G., & Lima, R. A. G. (2015). Non-pharmacological interventions to manage fatigue

and psychological stress in children and adolescents with cancer: an integrative review.

European Journal of Cancer Care: A multidisciplinary journal for cancer research- from

prevention to palliation, 25(6), 921-935. doi: 10.111/ecc.12381

Janssen, J. Scott. (2017). Medical Trauma. Social Work Today.

Urbanski, Beth L., Lazenby, Mark. (2012). Distress Among Hospitalized Pediatric

Cancer Patients Modified By Pet-Therapy Intervention to Improve Quality of Life. Journal of

Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 29(5), 272-282. doi: 10.1177/1043454212455697


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