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Martial arts intervention decreases pain scores in children with malignancy

Authors Bluth MH, Thomas R, Cohen C, Bluth AC, Goldberg E

Received 11 January 2016

Accepted for publication 15 April 2016

Published 8 July 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 79—87

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PHMT.S104021

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Laurens Holmes, Jr

Video abstract presented by Martin H Bluth.

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Martin H Bluth,1,2 Ronald Thomas,3,4 Cindy Cohen,2 Amanda C Bluth,5 Elimelech Goldberg,2,4

1Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 2Kids Kicking Cancer, Southfield, MI, 3Children’s Research Center of Michigan at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit MI, 4Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 5Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA

Background: Martial arts intervention in disease has been mostly limited to adult inflammatory, musculoskeletal, or motor diseases, where a mechanical intervention effects positive change. However, the application and benefit to pain management in childhood malignancy are not well described. Here, we assess the effects of defined martial arts intervention in children with cancer with respect to their pain perception and management.
Methods: Sixty-four children with childhood malignancies were enrolled in a martial arts program, which encompassed both meditation and movement modalities. Pain scores (0–10) were recorded pre- and post- 1-hour session intervention. Pain scores were crossed by total visits and tabulated by whether participant pain reduced at least 1 unit, stayed the same, or increased in intensity immediately after (post) participation session. Differences in pain scores were further compared by age and sex.
Results: Prepain and postpain scale data were measured for 64 participants, 43 males (67.2%) and 21 females (32.8%), ranging from 3 years to 19 years. Preintervention and postintervention data were obtained for 223 individual session visits. Mean number of patient participation visits was 1.8±1.6 (range one to nine visits). Of 116 individual measured sessions where the participants began with a pain score of at least 1, pain intensity reduced ≥1 unit in 85.3% (99/116) of visits, remained the same in 7.8% (9/116), and increased in 6.9% (8/116). For the majority (96.3%; 77/80) of sessions, participants began with a prepain intensity score of at least 5–10 with reduction in pain intensity following the session. The overall mean pain score presession visit was reduced by ~40% (pre: 5.95±2.64 and post: 3.03±2.45 [95% CI: 2.34–3.50]; P≤0.001). Median pain intensity scores had greater reductions with increased age of participants (3–6 years [-1], 7–10 years [-2], 11–14 years [-3], and 15–19 years [-4]).
Conclusion: Martial arts intervention can provide a useful modality to decrease pain in childhood cancer, with greater effect achieved with higher baseline pain scores and patient age. Martial arts intervention may improve patient compliance with respect to medical and surgical management, thus reducing disease morbidity and health care costs.

Keywords: martial arts, karate, cancer, pain, intervention, therapy

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