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Birmingham Children's Hospital
Steelhouse Lane Birmingham, West Midlands
B4 6NH West Midlands

Paralympics inspired sports day organised by expert teams from Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Members of the neuro-oncology and neuro-rehabilitation team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, caring for patients with brain and spinal tumours, recently held an accessible sports activity day to encourage our patients with disabilities to get involved with sports and physical activities.

The sports session was held at Aston University sports centre and is the second event of its kind to be organised by hospital staff after the first, which took place in April last year. 

Senior Neuro Oncology Nurse Specialist, Sharon Beardsmore and her team, Physiotherapist Jane Guest, and Occupational Therapists Alison Cooper and Sian Phillips were inspired to arrange the events after watching the 2012 Paralympic games which were held in London.

Many of the children they see experience varied physical and cognitive disabilities as a result of their conditions. Sharon, who has always had a keen interest in athletics says:

“It’s so important for young people to be active, especially children with injuries like the children and young people we see.

“Many of the families we see are unaware of the benefits of sport and the positive effect that being physically active can have on a child’s recovery. As a team, what we try to do is give them the information they need to incorporate sports into their everyday lives.”

The sports session was attended by staff and players from Lichfield district council, Edgbaston cricket club, Aston Villa Football Club and City of Birmingham Basketball teams, who spoke to patients and let them know more about the opportunities available to them.

The event was funded entirely by the team, with Alison Cooper (Advanced Occupational Therapist) at the leading children’s hospital doing a sponsored triathlon to raise money. The organisers have plans to expand the range of activities offered at the 2018 sports days and hope to incorporate martial arts and dance activities.    

Oncologist, Jenny Adamski, spoke about the effects of physical activity on brain injury recovery from a brain tumour:

“There’s a lot of rehabilitation needed after having a brain tumour – often physical function such as balance, social skills and communication skills are all affected by this condition.

“There is a recently published study that highlights the importance exercise in children recovering from brain tumours and the positive effects it can have on improving their processing speed and IQ as well as their physical function and fitness.

“My team has a big interest in neuro-rehabilitation. Often our patients feel that because of their injuries, they’re not able to do a lot of things including sport – we want to show them that they can and give them an idea of the resources available to them.”  

The team have also put together a comprehensive record of groups and organisations that offer sports activities for children with disabilities - encouraging their patients to incorporate sports into their home lives. 

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