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New project to help childhood cancer survivors

AIAS Fellow Lisa Wu has received grant funding from The Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) to develop a new type of treatment for childhood cancer survivors to improve their cognitive impairment by bringing parents and children together.

2020.11.17 | Lena Bering

Photo: AIAS Fellow Lisa M. Wu. By Aarhus University Photo.

Cognitive impairment is the most common late effect in childhood cancer survivors. A third are likely to experience problems in skills such as attention, processing speed, memory, and executive function. These cognitive problems can also reduce the children’s possibilities for getting a good education and limit their opportunities in the labour market later in life with long-term socio-economic consequences. Currently, there is no gold standard treatment to treat cognitive impairment in children who have survived cancer.

This lack of effective treatment for cognitive problems is addressed in a new research project entitled “Engaging Parents in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation for Childhood Cancer Survivors: The “I’M aware: Parents And Children Together” (ImPACT) Programme” that AIAS Fellow Lisa M. Wu has developed. The project has been awarded with one year of funding from the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse).

This novel programme initiated by Lisa M. Wu will actively involve and train both children and their parents to tackle the child’s cognitive challenges, but also activate existing supports in the child’s life to promote real-world functioning. ImPACT is a context-sensitive neuropsychological rehabilitation programme based on an evidenced-based approach pioneered at NYU Hospital in the US, where Lisa Wu has previously worked.

"Tackling cognitive problems in child cancer survivors is enormously difficult. Research into different treatments has typically focused on treating a narrow range of problems using a mixture of computerized cognitive training and the teaching of strategies to children in a clinician’s office with limited transfer of skills to real world activities.

Instead of bringing children to the programme, we would like to bring the programme to the child’s life in order to help them tackle the real world problems that affect them. A vital component of the programme is the involvement of parents in the rehabilitation process. They are key to promoting the use of strategies outside the clinician’s office and in the child’s actual everyday life,” says Lisa M. Wu.

Collaboration across Danish institutions

The one-year project will begin on 1 March 2021 and will be conducted in the Department of Oncology at Aarhus University Hospital. Lisa Wu will collaborate with oncologists in the Department of Oncology at Aarhus University Hospital, psychologists in the Department of Psychology at Aarhus University, as well as a neuropsychologist at Hammel Neurocenter.

Contact

Dr. Lisa M. Wu, Associate Professor, AIAS Fellow
lisa.wu@aias.au.dk

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, AIAS
Aarhus University
Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B 
DK-8000 Aarhus C 

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