Play and physical activity for children with haemophilia
Sports, exercise and physical activity can provide benefits for children with haemophilia. Here’s how parents can help.
All children can benefit from sport and play, as it can help to build a healthy body and keep muscles strong.1 Moreover, sport and exercise can introduce children to social environments with important lessons of how to interact with other children and the value of good sportsmanship.
This is no exception for a child with haemophilia!2
Benefits of exercise for children with haemophilia1,2
Change for the better
In the past, children living with haemophilia were encouraged to avoid exerting themselves to protect their joints. Today, with the correct therapeutic treatment, haemophilia no longer has to prevent children from having the chance to play and participate in sport.3
It starts with play
Physical activity builds strong muscles which improve balance and support joints, helping to prevent unnecessary falls or loss of balance and being injured. Here are some tips on how your child can have a life filled with fun and play.
Play and learn
Exercise may benefit joint health and more: 1,2
- Improving muscle strength reinforces joints, improving flexibility and coordination, all necessary for overall good health
- Helping boost self-confidence and self-esteem
- Introducing the social skills of making new friends and learning to work as a team
Encouraging your child to play and participate in sports will help them reap the benefits of physical activity, and as they grow, hopefully prevent injuries that result from a lack of balance or weak joints.
It starts with teamwork
Understanding which activities and sports may increase the risk of injury will help you choose the best activities for your child.
Together with your child and their haemophilia care team, you can choose the activities that are just right to help them get the most out of life. Consult with your child’s physiotherapist about appropriate footwear to prevent stress and support ankle joints.
As your child grows and becomes more active, regular follow-ups will evaluate your child’s joints and overall health.
To ensure that your child’s joints are well protected against bleeding at all times, consult with your child’s haemophilia team to check which activities are right for your child.4
If there is an injury, your child’s physiotherapist and haemophilia team should evaluate the severity of the injury and guide you through any rehabilitation needed. Generally, joint sprains, bleeds and muscle strains require an appropriate rest period to allow for healing. All activities can be reintroduced gradually following a joint bleed.5
Pre-school children with haemophilia
- Remember, children living with haemophilia will likely experience falls, bumps, and bruises
- At this young age, it’s wise to have adult supervision during playtime to prevent serious injury
- Introduce games that encourage play with other children and help develop new motor skills like catch, skipping, and hopscotch
School children with haemophilia
- In school, it’s important to encourage your child to participate in physical exercise classes, based on their individual needs and abilities. Children want to be liked by other children and playing sport is a way to be accepted, improve confidence and learn about teamwork6
- The decision about which sports to try will depend on the individual. Parents can work with their child, their child’s haemophilia team or doctor and a physiotherapist to evaluate any new physical activity or sport for risks6
- Any bleeding episodes should therefore be treated correctly and measures should be taken to avoid this from happening again6
- Look for activities that your child can enjoy participating in, as well some that can involve their friends too6
Encourage active living
We hope that this guide reassures you of the potential safety and benefits of social and physical activity. Start your child on the road to a happy and healthy life – powered by play!
Always consult your child’s healthcare professional before they engage in physical activities, exercises or sport.
References: 1. World Federation of Hemophilia. Should people with hemophilia exercise and play sports? (v1.0). 2. Canadian Hemophilia Society. Precautions in hemophilia: Can a person with hemophilia play sports? (v1.0). 3. Canadian Hemophilia Society. What is hemophilia: How serious is hemophilia? (v1.0). 4. World Federation of Hemophilia. Introduction to hemophilia (v1.0). 5. Guidelines for the Management of Haemophilia (v1.0). 6. The Haemophilia, von Willebrand Disease & Platelet Disorders Handbook – Sports and Recreation; https://www.hog.org/handbook/section/5/sports-and-recreation
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