It is important to understand how children and young people who have been treated for cancer manage after treatment. The treatment for bone and soft tissue tumours often involves major surgery and reconstruction of a limb, leaving many children disabled to some degree and, in some cases, unable to perform normal activities such as running or climbing stairs.
Traditionally, their physical function has been assessed through the use of clinical examination and questionnaires but this kind of assessment is limited and does not include direct measurement of how people manage at home or in the community.
The team in Newcastle has been working on two devices that can provide an objective assessment of physical function in hospital and at home. One is a wrist-mounted digital activity monitor, similar to a pedometer, and the other is a wireless motion tracking system. These devices have the potential to improve assessment of physical function by providing accurate, objective readings in and out of the hospital and thus to better understand the impact of treatment on patients’ lives.
In this 12 month feasibility study, the team will assess 20 patients, treated for a bone or soft tissue tumour in childhood, using traditional assessments followed by assessment using the new devices. This will involve wearing one of the devices for a week whilst doing normal activities. As well as testing the ‘wearability’ of the devices, this feasibility study will capture a significant volume of data that will give important insights into the future application of the technology.