Preschool-age children undergoing radiation treatment for malignancies often require daily sedation or general anesthesia to assure adequate motion control. A few older children with severe anxiety reactions, a history of behavior problems, or developmental handicaps have similar problems with radiotherapy. The use of sedation or anesthesia adds risk and expense to a procedure that does not require their administration for pain management. This report describes an altemative approach using behavior analysis to teach cooperation and motion control to preschoolers and older children with special needs. Outcome data are presented for 10 children between the ages of 3 and 7. Eight of the 10 appeared to benefit from the behavioral program. These eight cooperated with radiation treatments without the need for repeated sedation or anesthesia. The benefits and limitations of this approach are discussed along with the need for additional research.
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