Purpose: Children suffering from cancer often have to undergo physiotherapy that either extends the duration of in-patient hospitalisation or requires more frequent visits to the outpatient clinic. To improve care and to decrease the length of hospitalisation of children being treated at the Dept. of Haematoloy/Oncology of the Gaslini Children's Hospital, a programme of Home Care was set up in April 2000. Materials and methods: In June 2003, rehabilitation was added to the procedures that were feasible at home and included i.v. therapy administration, blood examinations, transfusion and/or psychological support, as well as palliative care for terminally ill children. The physiotherapy sessions were done in the ward, in the Rehabilitation Unit Gym, or at home, depending on the clinical conditions and the needs of the child and the family. Results: Between June 2003 and May 2005, 46 children, whose median age was 7 years (range 6 months-21 years) suffering from CNS tumours (13), leukaemia (13), neuroblastoma (7), bone tumours (6), sarcoma (4) and lymphoma (3), underwent 1,398 physiotherapy sessions for neuro-motor re-education (534), motor rehabilitation (485), strain re-education and training (250), respiratory care (79), or to improve comfort during the terminal phase of the disease (50). To maintain continuity of care, the treatments were performed at home (931), in the hospital ward (282), or in the gymnasium of our Physiotherapy Service (185). Conclusion: The physiotherapist was able to start or to continue assistance at home or in the hospital, and to keep up the programme based on the child's needs. Integrated home/hospital physiotherapy for children suffering from cancer is feasible and is useful for maintaining continuity of treatment without lengthening hospitalisation.
- Home care
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