Recovery After Pediatric Brain Tumor Surgery

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Brain Tumor Recovery

Contact the Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program

To learn more about our treatment options and recovery support programs for patients with pediatric brain tumors, call (502) 629-7725 or request an appointment online.

Pediatric brain tumor surgery can be an overwhelming experience for families. While our treatments help children recover from cancer, sometimes treatments for brain tumors can have lasting or long-term effects that require additional support.

The Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program, a collaboration between Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, both affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provides treatments and support after surgery for brain tumor patients and their families. Our support services extend to caregivers and siblings as everyone adjusts to new lifestyles and routines during and after brain tumor treatment.

Brain tumors can impact a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. That’s why we offer extensive support programs to help your child recover, learn, relax and feel more like themselves during and after their cancer journey.

What to Expect After Brain Tumor Surgery

Recovery after pediatric brain tumor surgery can be a long process. Beyond the physical recovery in the hospital, some side effects or long-term effects from treatment may occur, such as impairments to the child’s cognitive skills like learning, speaking or memory; physical skills like motor skills or muscle weakness; or vision and hearing.

Rehabilitation and support are available to help your child during recovery and survivorship. We offer programs to help your child and family adjust to new routines, regain skills and center your child’s health as a total person: physically, mentally and emotionally.

Collaborative Specialty Support

Pediatric brain tumor recovery often is complex and may require care from numerous specialists in addition to the oncology team. Norton Children’s Cancer Institute collaborates with other physicians and specialists within the Norton Children’s network to provide your child with comprehensive care.

Additionally, we provide advanced care through our Neuro-oncology Clinic, Kentucky’s only multidisciplinary pediatric spinal cord and brain tumor treatment program. Patients work with a comprehensive team combining specialized expertise from Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Each patient’s care team includes a neuroradiologist, neuro-oncologist, neurosurgeon, neurologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist and psychologist. The clinic team focuses on helping your child get back to being a kid after their brain tumor treatment.

Support also is available from other medical specialties based on your child’s needs. These may include ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, dermatologists and other specialists who can address additional medical challenges or concerns.

Examples of collaborative care for brain tumor patients in recovery include:


This type of specialist manages neurologic-related complications from brain tumors, such as headache, speech, sleep, muscle weakness and seizures. 


Some brain tumors can affect the pituitary gland, which can impact a child’s hormone levels and lead to other conditions. An endocrinologist can screen and monitor a child for endocrine disorders involving the pituitary gland, adrenal glands or thyroid, and address concerns with growth and development after cancer treatment.


Recovery from brain tumor surgery may involve skin concerns, such as hair loss, rashes, skin infections and skin sensitivity. Dermatologists also can monitor late effects of treatment, such as skin cancer risks.


Cancer takes a toll on a child’s physical and mental health. Our child psychologists and mental health support team can provide care for emotional well-being. Our team can help children deal with stress and anxiety, pain management, life during recovery and survivorship, and dealing with any side effects of treatment that affect physical, mental, emotional and social well-being.

Support After Brain Tumor Surgery

We offer a variety of support services for our patients after brain tumor surgery and throughout the recovery process. Our comprehensive support programs include:

Survivorship Program and Long-term Clinic

Survivors of childhood cancer maintain long-term relationships with providers who monitor their health and recovery with an individualized survivorship care plan. Regular screenings after cancer are a necessary part of recovery and remission. This long-term care involves working with specialists who understand your child’s needs moving forward, along with understanding how potential side effects from cancer or treatment can impact your child as they continue to grow into adulthood.

Survivorship care plans may include treatments and medications, follow-up appointments and seeing different providers.

Neuropsychology Program

Neuropsychological testing is available to assess a child’s brain functioning (cognitive, executive and adaptive) after pediatric brain tumor surgery. Our experienced neuropsychologists and specialists can evaluate muscle strength, movement, balance, speech, memory, learning and nerve function. Based on their assessment, your child’s medical team will create a unique care plan to meet them where they are with their recovery. This also can help inform your child’s school of any special accommodations or services needed when they return to school and additional supports that may be needed at home.

Adolescent & Young Adult Program

The Norton Cancer Institute Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Program provides a unique level of support for teens and young adults by addressing their physical, psychological, social and emotional needs during cancer treatment, recovery and remission. A special inpatient unit just for teens, located inside the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Center at Norton Children’s Hospital, provides adolescent patients with their own space to relax, entertain and just be themselves — whether they want to socialize with other patients and visitors or need some alone time.

The AYA Program offers a wide variety of services for patients and families, including art therapy, music therapy, traditional therapy, fitness activities, yoga, nutrition classes, mental health support, caregiver and sibling support, plus support groups.

Rehabilitation Services

Some patients may experience physical and cognitive effects after treatment, such as loss of motor skills, muscle strength or speech. Our pediatric rehabilitation specialists provide physical, occupational and speech therapy for children recovering from pediatric brain tumor surgery, tailored to their unique needs.

Psychosocial Support Team

Our Pediatric Psychosocial Program involves a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, therapists, child life specialists and social workers to support each patient and their family throughout the cancer journey.

Research shows that childhood cancer patients who receive psychosocial care are more likely to improve their coping skills and lessen depression-related symptoms during treatment and beyond.

Our psychosocial support services include traditional and expressive arts therapy, such as music, art and dance; patient and family navigators; special entertainment and playrooms with toys, movies and games; a pediatric support team to help manage chronic conditions and lifestyle changes; and more.

School Support

Our School Re-entry Program can assist patients with the transition back to their school environment. As part of the program, child life therapists can visit a patient’s school before they return to the classroom after being away for treatment. Our child life therapists can help classmates understand the patient’s treatment journey and why they may look different from the last time classmates saw them. Sometimes kids can have difficult or uncomfortable questions about cancer. Our social workers and psychologists can answer their questions, encourage them to share their feelings, and offer ideas for helping classmates integrate your child back into the classroom.

What to Expect From Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program 

  • If your child has just been diagnosed, we offer same-day and next business day appointments for urgent referrals.
  • Each child’s case is reviewed by a board of specialists who discuss possible treatment plans, so the patient benefits from a broad array of expertise, experience, training and research.
  • Neurologists, oncologists and other specialists see patients at the same location, making travel easier for families because appointments are scheduled for the same day.
  • Board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at the forefront of new treatment advances work to attack tumors while protecting healthy brain and spinal tissue.
  • Norton Children’s Hospital is part of an elite group of pediatric hospitals that perform MRI-guided laser ablation surgery using the minimally invasive Visualase system to destroy diseased tissue, including deep brain tumors.
  • Support groups, social workers, psychiatrists, school liaison specialists and child life specialists identify and address the needs of patients and their families during and after medical treatment.
  • We help prepare for the transition back to school, determine appropriate educational placement and identify any additional services through a neuropsychologist evaluation.
  • Integrated rehabilitation by physical and occupational therapists begins as early as possible during treatment to give patients the greatest benefit.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free Norton MyChart account.

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