Author: Kenny Schultz

6 Benefits of Physical Therapy for Pediatric Cancer

Physical therapy has been shown to improve strength, range of motion, sleep, energy, and mood while reducing pain, anxiety, and symptoms of treatment-related side effects, such as neuropathy in children with pediatric cancer. Occupational and speech therapy can also be extremely beneficial for cancer rehabilitation depending on the diagnosis and side effects. 

Physical therapists are in your corner to join the fight!

  1. Maintaining or improving physical function: Cancer and its treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, can often lead to physical side effects and complications. Physical therapy helps children maintain or regain their physical function, strength, flexibility, and mobility. It focuses on improving overall physical abilities and reducing the impact of cancer-related limitations.
  2. Managing pain and discomfort: Cancer treatment can cause pain and discomfort in children. Physical therapy techniques, such as therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, and modalities like heat or cold therapy, can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle stiffness, and improve joint mobility. Physical therapists can also provide guidance on proper body mechanics and techniques to minimize pain during daily activities.
  3. Preventing or reducing treatment-related complications: Some cancer treatments may have adverse effects on the musculoskeletal system, such as decreased bone density, muscle weakness, and joint contractures. Physical therapy interventions can address these issues and help prevent complications. For example, therapists can provide exercises to strengthen bones, maintain muscle mass, and prevent contractures, reducing the risk of long-term functional limitations.
  4. Enhancing the overall quality of life: Cancer and its treatments can significantly impact a child’s quality of life. Physical therapy not only focuses on physical aspects but also considers the emotional and social well-being of the child. By helping children maintain or improve physical function, physical therapy allows them to participate in activities they enjoy, interact with peers, and maintain a sense of normalcy.
  5. Supporting psychological well-being: Cancer can be emotionally challenging for children and their families. Physical therapy can provide a supportive and encouraging environment, promoting a positive mindset and emotional well-being. Through therapeutic activities, physical therapists can help reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, and enhance a child’s overall psychological resilience.
  6. Facilitating a smoother transition to regular activities: After cancer treatment, children often face challenges when reintegrating into regular activities, such as school, sports, and play. Physical therapy can help bridge this transition by gradually increasing activity levels, providing adaptive strategies if needed, and monitoring progress. The therapist works closely with the child, family, and other healthcare providers to ensure a safe and successful return to normal activities.

It’s important to note that the specific goals and interventions of physical therapy may vary depending on the individual needs and circumstances of each child. Any level of exercise during and after cancer treatment can reduce side effects, help your body recover, and fight depression. Research from the American Society of Clinical Oncology has shown that physical activity can also lower the risk of cancer returning.

If you feel your child could benefit from PT, OT, or speech treatment, BDI Playhouse can help! Get started here! 

Written By: Dana Bukala, PTA

OT Outside Play

Let’s Play Outside – OT Approved Summer Activities

Let’s Play Outside!

Playing outside provides so many benefits to our little ones, it helps expand their sensory system, promote relaxation strategies, provides physical exercise, facilitates motor skill development, and it allows your child to be creative! Here are some outside OT play activities for this summer season. 


1. Chalk

Chalk is a fun way to be creative when outside but also allows you to work on your gross and fine motor skills as well! Your child can draw shapes or create sensory paths, or even draw a simple hopscotch design. 

TIP: You can also smash the chalk and add water to make a thick paint and have your child paint the driveway using a brush! 


2. Sensory Tables

Fill a bucket with water and sand, use shovels to scoop, build sand castles, or search for hidden underwater creatures or seashells in the sand! This sensory activity is perfect for developing hand strength, fine motor skills, tolerating various textures, and language development. 

TIP: Sensory tables are so easy to change out, depending on your child’s age. Water with cut up fruit slices is an easy way to explore various textures and smells too!


3. Jump Rope

Jump rope is a great way for your child to work on gross motor and motor planning skills. You can play multiple ways: use a single rope to start or use two ropes to complete double dutch if you want a challenge. 

TIP: You can use the jump rope to play a game of snake to facilitate jumping skills and visual motor skills too. 


4. Water Balloons

Fill up water balloons and play catch, throw at a target, or use rackets or baseball bats to hit them with! There are so many ways to facilitate eye hand coordination skills, frustration tolerance, and bilateral coordination skills using this simple activity. 

TIP: You can also dip your water balloons into paint and throw them or pop them on a canvas to paint. 


5. Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is a great way to work on oral motor skills but also provides your child with a way to regulate themselves as well through deep breathing. 

TIP: Have a popping contest and see who can utilize their index finger to pop all of the bubbles first or the fastest to facilitate visual motor skills or fine motor coordination skills. 

Give these outside OT play activities a try this summer! If you would like to learn more about occupational therapy, visit our OT webpage here  and if your child has difficulty engaging in any of the activities previously listed check out our milestones webpage  or free screening

Written By: Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L

Wait, My Child Has an Occupation?

Childhood Occupations

When we typically think of the term occupation, we think of the word job. Yes, kids don’t have “jobs” but they do have activities that they engage in day to day. Children engage in meaningful tasks on a daily basis, like play, self-care, educational tasks, leisure activities, as well as things like chores, and many other activities too. In occupational therapy, we work on helping children perform their childhood occupations in the very way best that they can! 

We help children engage in these important occupations by viewing the task and analyzing the various components that facilitate engagement. For example, a child might have difficulty engaging in a seemingly simple task like brushing their teeth. However, from an occupational therapist point of view, we would break the task down and analyze the components of brushing their teeth. These components could consist of grasp, sequencing the steps, range of motion, tolerating the tooth paste or bristles of the toothbrush, attention, ability to motor plan, as well as many other skills required.

What Do Kids Do at Occupational Therapy?

Once the occupational task has been analyzed, the pediatric occupational therapist can work on those underlying skills to further facilitate engagement in that meaningful activity. During our session, yes you will see a toothbrush in your child’s hand to practice that self-care task. But you might also see us completing an obstacle course, pulling squigz from a vertical surface, or engaging in messy play. Working on those underlying skills through play further develops and facilitates progress towards their meaningful goals. 

So in short, yes your child has many occupations. And occupational therapy will further increase their independence and participation in those meaningful tasks if needed. If your child has difficulty engaging in their day to day childhood occupations, call the office at 708-478-1820 or click here to schedule a free 30 minute OT screening. 

Written By: Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L