Background: Play is primarily a way for a child to communicate, especially when under stress. However, the efficacy of therapeutic play is not widely accepted by the scientific community due to lack of evidence-based studies. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the four-session play module as cardiovascular rehabilitation therapy of post-operative Congenital Heart Disease pediatric patients.
Method: A randomized controlled clinical trial among pediatric patients ages 5-12 years old diagnosed of Congenital Heart Disease, who underwent elective open heart surgery. The patients were divided into two groups, those who had play module or conventional rehabilitation therapy. Quality of life (QoL) was assessed through PedsQL cardiac module, while functional capacity was measured through the six-minute walk test.
Result: There was a total of 56 subjects, with a mean age of 7.3 years. On the 2nd post-operative day, there was a significant difference on the QoL of patients who had the play module with regards to heart problem (2.4 ± 0.77 vs 1.4 ± 0.74, p<0.001), treatment problem (1.2 ± 1.12 vs 0.5 ± 0.74, p= 0.019), perceived physical appearance (2.2 ± 1.09 vs 1.4 ± 1.1, p= 0.007), treatment anxiety (2.6 ± 0.99 vs 1.4 ± 1.14, p<0.001), cognitive (1.7 ± 0.94 vs 0.8 ± 0.69, p<0.001), and communication (2.4± 1.15 vs 1.3 ± 1.13, p<0.001). The QoL was also significant on the 5th post-operative day, except for treatment problem (0.34 ± 0.59 vs 0.15 ± 0.42, p=0.174). Comparing the treatment group, there was a significant improvement on the QoL as the sessions progressed. The functional capacity using the six-minute walk test was not significant.
Conclusion: The structured play module is an effective therapeutic tool for cardiovascular rehabilitation of post-operative pediatric patients. It helped improved the quality of their lives post-operatively.