Updated Topic Background & Purpose

The Effects of Physical Activity on Leukemia Symptoms in Children

Mikayla Taus

Laurentian University

Cambrian College Site






BSN 4416: Nursing Research

Laura Killam

          Cancer is a rapid and disorganized disease that is defined by the growth of abnormal cells that is uncontrolled and unregulated (Lewis, Hekemper, Dirksen, O’Brien, & Bucher, 2010). Leukemia is a type of cancer that originates in the blood, specifically in the stem cells located in the bone marrow, most commonly diagnosed in children (Canadian Cancer Society [CCS], 2018). This disease occurs when the body’s stem cells become altered resulting in abnormal functioning of the body’s normal cells as they are overpowered by the leukemia cells (CCS, 2018). Specifically, acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are the most common types of leukemia seen in children (CCS, 2018). Between 2009 and 2013 in children from birth to fourteen years of age, a total of 1,445 were diagnosed with leukemia in Canada alone (CCS, 2018). Clarke et al., (2016) describes the main symptoms of childhood leukemia, some of which include: limb pain, fever, frequent infections, fatigue and weakness, bleeding tendencies and hepatosplenomegaly. For the purpose of this research proposal, fatigue and limb pain will be the symptoms of focus.

Physical activity is the movement of the body created by the skeletal muscles that needs the individual’s input of energy (The World Health Organization [WHO], 2018). Exercise is a category that falls under physical activity that can be performed through scheduled, organized, repetitive, and focused activities (WHO, 2018). Huang & Ness (2011), discuss that the physical fitness of children becomes impaired during and post cancer treatment. This impairment of physical fitness can lead to health issues such as: fatigue, reduced muscle strength and cardiopulmonary dysfunction (Huang & Ness, 2011). The exercise that will be focused on in this research proposal is aerobic exercise. Tian, Lu, Lin & Hu (2016) define aerobic exercise as an activity that is constant, rhythmic and tends to occur in long durations with low to modest intensity. Incorporating physical activity into the treatment and care of children with leukemia is important as it can improve their overall health, strength and quality of life (Chamorro, Wurz & Culos-Reed, 2013). Common types of aerobic exercise include: cycling, walking, swimming and jogging (Tian, Lu, Lin & Hu, 2016). For the purpose of this project, walking will be the aerobic exercise implemented as the intervention in the children participating in the study.

The purpose of this quasi-experimental pilot study is to explore the effects of aerobic exercise on limb pain and fatigue experienced by children with leukemia in Northern Ontario. This topic is relevant to the nursing profession as nurses play a key role in patient care as well as conducting research in the field of oncology (Cummings, Lee & Tate, 2018). Prades, Remue, Van Hoof & Borras (2015), state that multidisciplinary teams ultimately improve the care provided to cancer patients in the healthcare setting. The central hypothesis formed for this study is: Does aerobic exercise have a positive impact on the common symptoms experienced in children with leukemias?

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