Title

Motor functioning and associated cognitive outcomes in pediatric survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Department/School

Psychology

Publication Title

Child Neuropsychology

Abstract

© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivors are at risk for developing neurocognitive late effects following intensive medical treatment. Motor impairments have been highlighted as a common neurocognitive late effect, including fine-, gross-, and visual-motor skills. The severity of these motor deficits is variable in the existing literature, warranting additional investigations with more homogenous samples. In addition, there is an even greater paucity regarding the interrelations between motor deficits and the impact motor challenges may have on other domains of functioning, such as academics. Therefore, the present study aimed to characterize motor functioning in children who were treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia with chemotherapy (n = 13) in comparison to healthy controls (n = 13). Additionally, this study investigated the relationship between primary (e.g., visual-spatial, fine-motor), secondary (e.g., visual-motor), and tertiary (e.g., academics) skills. The results revealed that oncology survivors had significantly lower fine- and gross-motor skills compared to healthy controls. No significant differences were observed between the groups on visual-perception and visual-motor tasks. Fine-motor functioning was significantly associated with visual-motor functioning in ALL survivors. Motor skills were not related to academic outcomes. The present findings provide evidence for motor impairments in pediatric ALL survivors, along with initial findings highlighting the cascading effect of primary motor impairments on other cognitive domains. This research sheds light on the need for clinical screening and intervention of motor skills in the survivorship population. Future research is warranted to examine the effect of motor deficits on cognitive and psychosocial functioning in pediatric oncology.

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