A European trial is underway, led by the Maria Letizia Verga Center in Monza, which aims to scientifically demonstrate that physical exercise is a safe and effective cure
Several scientific studies have already clearly indicated this for adults: practicing sports regularly helps prevent and treat over 40 diseases among the most widespread in the world, including several types of cancer. It also contributes, even in cancer patients, to helping them to heal faster, significantly reducing the risk of relapses, and better managing the side effects of treatments. Now an international study, which also involves the researchers of the Maria Letizia Verga Center in Monza, winners of the European Commission’s FORTEe project, aims to demonstrate that physical exercise and sport are effective both to counteract the problems related to the disease. and to therapies also in children and adolescents with cancer both to improve their quality of life.
What (really) is gymnastics good for
Every year in the world over 300 thousand children and adolescents receive a diagnosis of cancer (there are about 60 different subtypes that affect the youngest) and in Italy we have about 1,500 diagnoses per year in the age group 0-14 years and 900 in adolescents. Today, more and more children and young people are surviving cancer than in the past and on average in Italy eight out of ten manage to heal. Thanks to progress in the search for new therapies, but also to an improvement in the organization of care. Precisely for this reason it is even more crucial to improve their quality of life during and after anti-cancer treatments, also taking advantage of gymnastics to stem the side effects of treatments and problems related to the disease, from forced immobility for some periods up to the psychological impact. A possible explanation of the anti-tumor role of physical activity is to be sought in the strengthening of the activity of the immune system and in the reduction of inflammatory factors, which physical activity entails. In addition, moving around a useful means of contrast to overweight and obesity, relevant risk factors for the onset of a neoplasm and for relapses. Several analyzes have then proved advantages against the sense of chronic fatigue that many patients suffer from (even for months or years after treatment) and that training improves depression and reduces sleep disorders.
International multicentre project
Exercise and sport, supervised and continuously adapted to the clinical conditions of even the youngest patients, seem to be a valuable aid in their therapy path. However, the impact of precision training has not yet been definitively demonstrated: The FORTEe research project is part of this cognitive vacuum and aims to demonstrate that physical exercise and sport are a safe and potentially effective therapy to counteract fatigue, to maintain strength, aerobic capacity, coordination and agility and to improve the quality of life of children, adolescents and young adults with blood or solid organ cancers – explains Andrea Biondi, scientific director of the Maria Letizia Verga Center, head of the project -. Furthermore, there is preliminary evidence that improved efficiency of the systems used to perform physical exercise (such as the heart, lung and musculoskeletal system) can support the immune system in the fight against cancer, in synergy with drugs and cancer treatments. In addition, FORTEe also has as its objectives the development of innovative digital technologies, such as augmented reality, to increase the motivation and involvement of junior patients and the implementation of guidelines for the performance of physical exercise and sport as therapy in hospitals. pediatric. 450 participants will be recruited in the 16 centers participating in the project in 8 European countries, with the aim of demonstrating that exercise is safe and that, indeed, it can support cancer therapy. Adriana Balduzzi, pediatrician and head of the transplant center at the Monza and Brianza Foundation for the Child and his Mother (MBBM), managing body of the Maria Letizia Verga Center, director of the project together with Biondi. Another Italian center is the National Cancer Institute of Milan, which participates in the project for the experimentation part on pediatric solid tumors.
The Sport Therapy of the Maria Letizia Verga Center
Since 2017 the Sport Therapy research project of the Maria Letizia Verga Center has been active in Monza at the Pediatric Clinic of the Monza and Brianza Foundation for the child and his mother. In recent years, about 400 patients have been accepted, from 18 months to 22 years of age, of which 25% underwent a bone marrow transplant. The path begins at the onset of the disease, with a medical-sports examination and an assessment of the characteristics of aerobic power, strength, stability and flexibility, and continues beyond the end of the therapies. Everyone is prescribed precision and individualized training. Every day, following a multidisciplinary consultation between pediatrician, sports doctor, motor scientist and osteopath, training is adapted to the clinical progress of the individual patient. The Sport Therapy team coordinated by Adriana Balduzzi And Francesca Lanfranconi, sports doctor and researcher at the Maria Letizia Verga Center, is responsible for coordinating the working group made up of over 15 professionals. Until a few years, sporting activity was offered only to children at the end of therapy and in good conditions of recovery from the disease – says Lanfranconi -. Given the good results, today all our patients with blood cancer or bone marrow transplants are taken care of in the Sport Therapy path so that they can benefit from a training that aims to keep muscles, lungs, heart and all organs efficient. that are stressed by therapy. Among the sports that patients can practice are golf, climbing on an equipped wall, football and cycling without pedals. The trainings take place both in the hospital rooms of the transplant center, in the hematology department and in the day hospital, and in the spaces specifically dedicated to the activity, which are the gym, which has an area of 160 square meters, and the outdoor terrace. of 400.
November 10, 2021 (change November 10, 2021 | 18:19)
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