According to Dr Rohini Rau, head of the Centre of Creative Therapy at Egmore Children’s Hospital, many doctors are not aware of the benefits of CAT. “Research has proven that CAT has reduced the number of painkillers needed post-procedure, and reduced anxiety levels in patients prior to procedures,” said the senior resident at Kauvery Hospital.
A 2017 study on children with cancer undergoing art therapy found that such therapy develops coping skills in children with cancer, adding, “Children were able to better express underlying emotions, developed more effective coping skills, and experienced a reduction in adverse side effects.”
However, accessibility to such information among the medical fraternity is poor, said Rau, adding that such knowledge was hard-pressed when she was studying. “There needs to be more awareness on CAT for these services to be tapped into. Doctors must be made aware, and only then will they be able to refer it to their patients,” said Dr Shafika Banoo, a palliative care physician.
Parents, according to Stella Matthew, managing trustee of the Golden Butterfly, a not-for-profit that offers support for children in palliative care for free, usually take to CAT upon noticing the visible changes in the children.
However, noted Dr Julius Scott, this is only the case when treatment is offered for free. “Half of them running around to get money for antibiotics and chemotherapy. As long as it is a complimentary service offered by an NGO that does not add to costs, it will be well-received,” said the professor of paediatrics and head of the division of paediatric oncology at Ramachandra University.
Rau noted that this can be made possible in the city with ease. “There needs to be no increase in the existing infrastructure. What we need is manpower, and that is also available. The scope of CAT in the city is vast, and it needs to be taken into consideration more, perhaps on par with medical treatment, even,” she said.