A new exercise program at
Nationwide Children's Hospital helps pediatric cancer survivors regain physical
strength and confidence and encourages weight loss.
"Play Strong," a pediatric cancer exercise
program in partnership with the Sports Medicine and Oncology teams at
Nationwide Children's, is led by certified athletic trainers. The program was
developed for cancer patients, 8-21-years-old, who are off treatment and have
clearance from their physician. It is based on functional rehabilitation
activities including flexibility, muscle strength, power, balance, agility and
Travis Gallagher, ATC, a certified athletic
trainer in Sports Medicine at Nationwide Children's, was key in implementing
the program at the hospital.
"At a patient's first session, we access their
deficits and try to progress from there," said Gallagher as he explained the
goals of the Play Strong program. "We're usually doing cardiovascular fitness,
strength, power, agility and functional movement skills to get their bodies
back into the motion of physical activity."
Play Strong was designed for pediatric and
adolescent cancer survivors to improve their motor skills and transition into
physical activity safely. The goals are to improve muscle strength and power,
balance and agility for better body coordination and self-confidence with all
"While the kids have the heart and have the mind
to get back into physical activity, once their chemotherapy is over, their
bodies sometimes just aren't ready," said Randal Olshefski, MD, chief of the
Section of Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) at Nationwide
Children's Hospital, and also an associate professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio
State University College of Medicine. "Play Strong is just another example of
continuing to break through the barriers. We want the kids, safely, to get back
to being as much of a kid as possible."
Many pediatric cancer survivorship programs across the
country encourage their patients to exercise and return to activity after a
battle with cancer. But, only a few actually have a structured program similar
to Nationwide Children's.