Psychophysical effects of an exercise therapy during pediatric stem cell transplantation: a randomized controlled trial


This study evaluates the physical and psychosocial effects of an inpatient exercise program for children and adolescents undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Participants (n = 70) were randomized to an exercise intervention (IG: resistance, endurance, and flexibility training) or a non-exercise control group (CG: mental and relaxation training). Pre- (prior hospital admission; T0) and post- (day of discharge; T1) measurements included maximal isometric knee extension strength (KES; strain gauge force transducer), hand grip strength (HGS; JAMAR dynamometer), distance walked in 6 min (6MWD; 6-minute walk test), quality of life (QoL; KINDL-R) and medical parameters. Fifty-seven patients (IG: n = 28; 11.0 (5–17) years; CG: n = 29; 12.0 (6–18) years) completed the study. During hospitalization the IG and CG attended on average 3.1 (2–4) or 2.9 (0.3–4) training sessions weekly. KES, 6MWD, and HGS significantly decreased (p < 0.05) in the CG, while there were no changes in the IG. Pre- to post-changes in 6MWD and HGS differed significantly between groups (p < 0.05). QoL declined in both groups (p < 0.05). Our results indicate that a moderate exercise program is feasible and might counteract a treatment-associated decline of physical performance.

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The authors like to thank all patients and their families for their participation in this trial. The BISON-Study was financially supported by the German Josè Carreras Leukemia Foundation (2010–2013, project no. 10/29), Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder Frankfurt e.V., the Adolf Messer Foundation and private donors.

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Correspondence to Anna Senn-Malashonak.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by the local ethics committee of the medical faculty of Goethe-University Frankfurt/Germany (number: 98/10) and is registered at (registration number: NCT01575704).

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