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Mabbott Lab

Exercise and learning study in children with brain tumours

What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to examine the practicality of using physical exercise to help the brain recover from radiation injury in children with brain tumours.

Currently, we lack treatments to help the brain recover after treatment from brain tumours. In animals and in adults, physical exercise has been shown to help the brain recover from damage, including radiation damage, and improve thinking ability. We plan to see if developing a program to improve physical fitness in children with brain tumours is practical and if it can improve brain health. 
We are currently recruiting children treated for paediatric brain tumours.

Who is eligible for this study?

Your child is eligible to participate in the study if he/she:

  • Has been diagnosed with a brain tumour and treated with cranial radiation.
  • Is between the ages of 9 and 14.
  • Has either English as his or her native language or has had at least two years of schooling in English.

Your child is not eligible to participate in the study if he/she:

  • Has prior history of traumatic brain injury, neurological disorder, cerebral palsy, developmental delay or learning disability not associated with the tumour.
  • Is younger than 9 years of age.
  • Is older than 14 years or age.
  • Requires sedation for brain scanning.
  • Is claustrophobic, as the brain scanning requires that children enter a tunnel in the MRI machine.
  • Has any metal parts in their body, for example a Cochlear (ear) implant, as the MRI machine uses a large magnet to obtain pictures of the brain. Dental filling are OK.

What will be required of my child?

Your child will participate in a fitness class, like a phys-ed class, at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) three times a week over a 12 week period. The fitness classes will be 1.5 hours and will involve doing physical activities, like playing games and sports, so that your child’s heart beats faster, they breathe harder and their muscles get stronger. Activities will be fun games that will involve running drills, like relays, jumping and pulling exercises like tug of war. Following the activities, a short period of time will be spent playing an indoor sport like soccer, floor hockey or basketball. There will be a snack time after the fitness class. The purpose of the classes is to increase your child’s fitness. The classes will be run by a certified fitness instructor and monitored by a physiotherapist.

At the beginning, middle and end of the study we will obtain brain scans as well as psychological tests of attention, speed of thinking, memory and intelligence and test the fitness of your child.

How can I find out more?

If you are interested in participating in the study or receiving more information, please contact  Naomi Kessler at 416-813-7396.  

Thank you.