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Physical Therapist Coaching to Improve Physical Activity in Children With Brain Tumors

A Pilot Study

Ovans, Jessica A., PT, DPT; Hooke, Mary C., PhD, APRN, PCNS, CPON; Bendel, Anne E., MD; Tanner, Lynn R., PT, MPT

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000531

Purpose: Children with brain tumors (BTs) experience fatigue and decreased quality of life (QOL). Physical activity (PA) is recommended during and after cancer treatment. We explored whether a fitness tracker intervention combined with tailored coaching by a physical therapist (PT) increased PA and QOL and decreased fatigue in children with BTs.

Methods: Participants were 7 to 18 years' old, within 2 years of diagnosis, and received a 12-week PA intervention using a fitness tracker combined with 5 PT coaching sessions. Steps/day measured by Fitbit and self-reports of QOL, fatigue, and PA were evaluated at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks.

Results: Participants had nonsignificant increase in steps/day. Total fatigue, general, and sleep/rest subscales improved while cognitive fatigue and QOL remained unchanged. Higher steps/day were associated with lower fatigue.

Conclusion: This is a feasible intervention that may contribute to an increase in PA and improve fatigue in children with BTs.

We explored use of a fitness tracker intervention combined with tailored coaching by a physical therapist to increase physical activity and quality of life and decrease fatigue in children with brain tumors.

Children's Minnesota (Drs Ovans, Hooke, and Bendel and Ms Tanner), Minneapolis, Minnesota; University of Minnesota School of Nursing (Dr Hooke), Minneapolis, Minnesota

Correspondence: Jessica Ovans, PT, DPT, Children's Minnesota, CSC 267, 2525 Chicago Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55404 (

Grant Support: This study was supported by a grant from the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic Foundation.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2018 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association