Sports lessons return for neuro-oncology patients

23 May 2022

After being stumped by the Covid-19 pandemic for more than two years, Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s popular Sports for All initiative for young people cared for by its neuro-oncology team made its return with a spot of cricket.

Taking place recently at Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Indoor Cricket Centre in Edgbaston, the event was attended by fourteen brave patients, aged between six and 16, along with their families and members of their medical team who cheered them on.

The Sports for All series was a regular fixture in the calendar before our world changed in the spring of 2020; offering an opportunity for the young people with brain and spinal tumours to engage in sporting activity to help aid their recovery.

It made its triumphant return (to the crease) with children getting tips from the club’s coaches and the plan is to now add to the programme that has already included football, ballet, boxercise, indoor rock climbing and karate.

Jane Guest, advanced physiotherapist form the Children’s Hospital and one of the organisers of Sport for All said: “There is a lot of rehabilitation and reintegration that needs to be done after having a brain or spinal tumour – balance, vision, mobility, social skills and communication skills may all be affected by this condition.

“Physical activity plays a vital role on the physical, social and psychological wellbeing of children and is essential to their on-going care, rehabilitation and long-term health.

“Often patients feel they are not able to do a lot of things including sport. The Sport for All sessions aim to show them that they can and give them an idea of the resources that are available.”

One of the young people attending the session was cricket fan Jamie Peters, a pupil from New College in Worcester, a school for blind and visually impaired children. He was diagnosed with an optic glioma, a tumour inside the nerve connecting the eye and the brain at seven-months-old and has undergone many different treatments in the past twelve years including 16 months of chemotherapy, three surgeries to reduce his tumour, as well as six weeks of proton beam therapy in the United States.

Jamie’s Mum, Sue Bowen-Peters, said: “Sport for All is really good because it helps normalise Jamie’s life. He sees other children that are going through the same thing and he can sometimes be an inspiration to them as well because he seems to be well and has been for a few years now. Also, it’s important to carry on as much as you can.

“It’s good to be here to be with professional players and for us parents to get together as well, it’s a nice community.

“The team at the Children’s Hospital are just phenomenal, they’re so nice, so normal and they don’t make a drama they just want the children to enjoy themselves and reach their potential, they’re really good.”

Birmingham Children’s Hospital is a primary treatment care centre for paediatric oncology in central England. It cares for around 50 patients with neuro-oncology diagnosis annually in a catchment area of one million children.

Survivors of childhood cancer engage in fewer physical activities than the general population and paediatric brain tumour survivors experience more barriers to physical activity than their peers or survivors of other types of childhood cancer. Most of these children have some level of physical or neurocognitive disability and low confidence, which may inhibit participation in sports.

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