Medulloblastoma is a tumor in the brain that primarily affects children between 5 and 9 years of age. This type of tumor most commonly arises in the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls the body’s balance and coordinated movements.
Initial symptoms of medulloblastoma can include but are not limited to the following:
- Nighttime or morning headache
- Double vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with walking/ataxia
A medical doctor can first detect medulloblastoma with a neurological exam followed by an MRI brain scan. Treatment for medulloblastoma primarily focuses on removing the tumor to reduce pressure in the child’s skull, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Combining these three treatments increases a child’s survival rate to 70%.
Because the cerebellum is affected by medulloblastoma, children must see a physical therapist post-treatment of the tumor. Typical impairments include decreased postural control and balance impairments which can result in difficulty with functional movements, including bed mobility, walking long distances, navigating environments, and ascending/descending stairs. Physical therapy helps the patient return to baseline levels stronger than before. As a result of physical therapy, the child begins to regain self-confidence through fun daily activities.