A researcher from the University of Medicine and Health Sciences of New South Wales has developed a digital health program to help childhood cancer survivors get physically active.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING
Dr Lauren Ha, an exercise physiologist and a post-doctoral researcher in paediatrics at UNSW’s School of Clinical Medicine and Health, modified a version of iEngage, a health education program for school-aged children, to create the iBounce-based home. the program.
It features 10 self-paced modules on topics such as muscular strength, aerobic fitness and flexibility, delivered through short demonstration videos.
Supported by the Children’s Cancer Project, the iBounce program was tested through a pilot involving 30 participants from Sydney Children’s Hospital over a 12-week period. By the end of the program, participants had shown “significant” improvements in their aerobic fitness, according to one survey published in JMIR Cancer.
After this pilot, iBounce will later be sent to a national trial. An implementation strategy is also being developed to support the use of iBounce in clinical practice.
WHY IT MATTERS
Dr Ha noted that young cancer survivors experience “many barriers” when it comes to physical activity. “It’s an important issue, as this population is at high risk of developing health problems, some of which they won’t experience until they’re in their 30s or 40s,” she added.
Since poor health behaviors can exacerbate the risk of late complications, such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, it is important for cancer survivors to engage in healthy behaviors, especially physical activity, to prevent or minimize the impact of the effects late stage of cancer.
However, about 85% of young survivors do not exercise at least one hour a day. “Many survivors do not exercise enough, have poor perceptions of their activity levels, and have below-average fitness levels,” asserted Dr Ha.
Often, childhood cancer survivors who have gone through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy lose motivation to engage in physical activities.
This gap in physical health requires technologies delivered remotely to address physical inactivity and low levels of fitness among young cancer survivors, Dr Ha said. “If survivors improve their fitness levels, it can help them in their recovery, reduce the risk of other chronic diseases and ease the pressure on the health system,” she said.
THE BIGGEST TREND
In Australia, around 750 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. To support thousands of young cancer patients on their journey, the Australian government has launched a digital cancer center in partnership with Australia’s leading children’s cancer support groups. It will provide online counseling for young cancer patients under the age of 12 and their parents.