Long-term gross motor performance following treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia
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BACKGROUND: The primary purpose of this descriptive study was to determine the long-term effects of cancer treatment in childhood on musculoskeletal function and gross motor skills. PROCEDURE: Musculoskeletal and gross motor function were assessed in a cohort of 36 survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seen in a pediatric tertiary care referral centre, compared to 36 age and gender matched comparison subjects. Basic gross motor skills were assessed using dimensions D: standing, and E: walking, running, and jumping of the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM). Strength, balance, and running speed and agility were assessed using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOTMP). Hand grip strength and ankle dorsiflexion range of motion were also measured. Findings in the children with ALL were compared by dependent (paired) t-tests to those in age and gender matched children. RESULTS: The GMFM scores for standing were 98.7% and for walking, running, and jumping were 99% of normal. The mean standard scores for the BOTMP were significantly lower than those of the comparison group: strength 11.5 vs. 19.4, balance 9.4 vs. 15.5, and running speed and agility 9.9 vs. 16.6. The ALL subjects had less hand grip strength 156.3 vs. 190.2, and less ankle dorsiflexion 7.5 vs. 16.1 degrees than the comparison group. The survivors of childhood leukemia were able to perform most basic gross motor functions. However, musculoskeletal impairment was evident and levels of motor proficiency were significantly poorer than those of age and gender matched children. CONCLUSIONS: Programs to promote physical activity and limit disability may improve gross motor function and increase overall quality-of-life in survivors of leukemia in childhood.