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INDUSTRIAL ARTS THERAPY: an educational therapy program which features fabrication of objects in wood or metal using a variety of hand, power, or machine tools. Our program also includes small engine repair and automobile maintenance programs. Colloquially known as “shop class”; these programs expose children to the basics of home repair, manual craftsmanship, and machine safety.

In the pediatric cancer setting the industrial arts program serves a multipurpose function. The obvious role is to introduce and educate the child with cancer, their siblings and parents to basic “shop” skills.  Secondary and less obvious roles are to:

  • Improve and develop family and team-building skills,


  • Treat and improve coordination deficits resulting from the chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgical treatment necessary to rid the child of cancer


  • Treat and improve behavioral, memory and learning deficits that result from the cancer and its effects on each family member.


These programs are available for individuals to participate in singularly and as groups or as families and will include the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow engine challenge and Driving Performance Improvement Program.



Many children who survive childhood cancer suffer central nervous system injury due to the disease and/or its treatment.  The two most common pediatric malignancies, leukemias and brain tumors, are associated with central nervous system (CNS) involvement.  While considerable work has been conducted establishing resultant cognitive and behavioral deficits and reduced quality of life, it has only been over the past one to two decades that clinicians and researchers have begun to make concerted efforts to rehabilitate these deficits.  Impairments in sustained attention, working memory, processing speed and effective problem solving are reasonably common side effects of these malignancies and their treatments. These cognitive deficits can negatively impact learning, school performance, and overall quality of life.   At present, research is ongoing to test and develop interventions designed to alleviate the neurocognitive late effects that characterize many pediatric cancer survivors.   In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause for death in the U.S.A.  for all teens from ages 16-19. This includes the population of teens that have struggled to survive the death-grip of  childhood cancer and as a result of the cancer and related treatments begin the their driving experience with  impairments in sustained attention, working memory, processing speed and effective problem solving.


The CDC goes on to report ”Driving is a complex skill, one that must be practiced to be learned well. Teenagers' lack of driving experience, together with risk-taking behavior, puts them at heightened risk for crashes. The need for skill-building and driving supervision for new drivers is the basis for graduated driver licensing programs, which exist in all US states and Washington, DC. GDL provides longer practice periods (at least 30-60 hours of supervised driving practice), limits driving under high risk conditions for newly licensed drivers, and requires greater participation of parents in their teens' learning-to-drive. Research suggests that the more comprehensive GDL programs are associated with reductions of 26% (15) to 41% (16) in fatal crashes and reductions of 16% (17) to 22% (18) in overall crashes, among 16-year-old drivers. When parents know their state’s GDL laws, they can help enforce the laws and, in effect, help keep their teen drivers safe.” The use of driving simulators provides individuals with a safe and engaging environment to practice and develop realistic driving skills. With the assistance of therapist, it is reasonable to expect that childhood cancer survivors can utilize simulators in a way much similar to professional race car drivers to improve their performance in the areas of sustained attention, working memory, processing speed and effective problem solving in ways that apply directly to real world settings and can improve their chance to survive and thrive into adulthood.


Pilot Study data as to the effectiveness of the intervention will be collected and reported.  Academic research protocols/procedures will be followed. Estimated 50-100 participants’ ages 5-19 years old and have an IQ greater than 70 will complete a battery of neuropsychological and psychological tests pre and post intervention.  Changes will be compared to an historical control group, and a group of siblings (n= 40) who will also be recruited over the course of the project. Each participant will have a designated caregiver, usually the mother, who will also be involved in the study as indicated.



  • Reaction times (processing speed) and potential changes in this through repeated experience with the simulator.   

  • Multi-tasking paradigm to increase executive function skills including processing speed and working memory and potentially increase

    generalizability. Siblings and/or matched controls.     

  • Compare results to group historical data for traditional cognitive remediation (CogMed).    

  • Compare long term teen driving data for study group to historical control

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