“What a strange thing! To be alive beneath cherry blossoms” cited by a Japanise Haiku.

Komorebi Post– Whenever we hear about a child suffering from cancer we are overhelmed by extreme negative thoughts, often forgetting those behind the scenes.  On the occasion World Cancer Day, Komorebi Post spoke with Dr. Luciana Losito, Neurologist of the IRCSS Center E. Medea of the “La Nostra Famiglia Association”, Research Center of Brindisi (the region of Apulia in southern Italy).

Dr. Losito participated in a working group of the Italian Association of Hematology and Pediatric Oncology (Italian acronym AIEOP). The outcome of the collective work of  Neurologists, Child Neuropsychiatrists and Therapists is a draft for the Italian version of the manual addressed to Health Operators and families Pediatric Oncology Execrise Manual “POEM”. The original manual was created by  Carolina Chamorro Vina, PhD Calcary University. POEM is manual for complex motor activity exercises for children with cancer or adults with same experience in life. The manual’s aim is to get closer to families, and encourage active intermediacy and engagment.  The project has a moral and pragmatic meaning because it is an invitation and recognition for the main users of the POEM: families. In fact, families are the main flow of Communication as they are the link to the medical world, they are the Support with their active role while promoting the motor activity of their child, and they are the Commitment because they are called to adopt a positive attitude while giving back the child to his daily life as a continuity of childhood.

Rehabilitation interventions

Dr. Losito explains that she often meets children cancer patients shortly after surgery and she always followup with them in ad hoc rehabilitation interventions. Talking about the sensitive theme of pediatric cancer the Neurologist recognizes the possibile increase of several factor variables in recent years. Overcoming the idea of strict medical-sanitary rehabilitation is seen as a potentail to alleviate the mind of the child from the burden of experienced sufferings and, with foresight, to improve the present condition of the body pervaded by cancer. Dr. Losito explains:

This work is definitely designed to improve the resilience and life skills of the little ones, but for us doctors it also means to create a communication link with families. In fact is correct and better not to ask them backwards in time. In my case, for example, I know very well that a question dating back the beginning of the problem (anamnesis and first manifestations) would bring them back at the initial anguish stage of the discovery of their child’s cancer. So on an ideal time axis I must begin from the first moment I meet the family. But I certainly am aware of my patience’s medical history “.

Most of the rehabilitation pracitices were aimed to rehabilite its patients after surgeries and they undergo constant examinations and adaptations. One fundemental challenge is to make is to make rehabilitation itself a positive experience, and to strenghten the ability of resilience of the so called “survivors” and consequently give back those children some of the ordinary life pratices in the most natural way. Not only children benifit from this “tailor-made” motor activities, but it also works with adults who have experienced the traumatic event of cancer during their childhood.

Yoga for children cancer patients

Families often prefer sedentary life for the child after surgery, perhaps because of the protection parental instinct to their vulnerable child. However, motor activities are among natural experiences in every childhood in this context they want to alleviate psychological suffering. Additionaly the the side effects of sedentary style are underestimated, such as the risks of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes.

One of the suggested motor activities for young patients is Yoga. – as we can read on the manual: “Yoga increases the ability for social interaction, decreases anxiety, increases general well-being, mental health and recovery capacity“.

Ofcourse in the Westen abstact application of Yoga. The exercises proposed have duble functions; to alleviate suffering, increase energy, improve emotional functions on the one hand, and prepare for other physical activities that require greater physical balance and security, for example in children with bone cancer.  

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