What is Oncology Rehabilitation?
Oncology rehabilitation includes a wide range of therapies designed to help you build strength and endurance, regain independence, reduce stress and maintain the energy to participate in daily activities that are important to you. Here are the rehabilitation therapies we offer patients:
Physical therapy: As part of your cancer treatment, our physical therapists may help you design an individualized exercise program that combines range-of-motion training with light resistance exercises. These therapeutic exercises aim to reduce fatigue and improve physical function, safety and well-being.
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapists are available to help you with daily living activities that are important to your routine and quality of life, such as dressing, showering and eating.
Speech and language pathology: Many cancer patients may benefit from speech and language pathology. Therapists address problems you may be experiencing, including dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of voice and cognitive changes that often result from cancer treatment.
Is oncology rehab effective?
Not only does regular exercise enhance overall health and well-being, research now shows that cancer rehab and exercise can be effective for reducing fatigue associated with cancer and cancer treatments, decreasing depression and anxiety, improving quality of life, and even in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence.
Is exercise safe for cancer patients?
Yes. But, because of the possible complications and need for medical supervision, it is highly recommended that you begin your exercise program with a trained rehabilitation specialist (Physical or Occupational Therapist) to ensure your safety
Cancer and treatment can cause physical problems including, but not limited to, pain, fatigue and muscle weakness. These may interfere with your life in physical, emotional and practical ways. While not all cancer survivors need professional rehabilitation services, most will need to at least work on improving strength and stamina.
Signs that you may need rehabilitation services:
- Feeling weaker now than when you were initially diagnosed.
- Having difficulty talking or swallowing.
- Experiencing pain that is not caused by cancer.
- Feeling more tired than you were before you were diagnosed.
- Having muscular or orthopedic problems.
- Having difficulty recovering from treatment and doing the things you used to do.
- Uncertain about how much to exercise or how to best exercise.
- Struggling with memory problems or difficulty concentrating.
Working with your health care team:
- Make a list of physical issues that affect your ability to function (such as difficulty concentrating at work or exercising or even something as simple as getting in and out of the car). For example, ask: What can I do to improve my balance? Can I improve the strength of my hands? What can be done to improve my swallowing? How can I manage my job and home life with this fatigue? What can I do about my poor memory? What kind of exercise program should I follow at home?
- Discuss your specific concerns with your health care team.
- Ask the rehabilitation professionals you work with to evaluate your needs and report their suggestions to other members of your health care team.
- Together with your health care provider, develop your plan for physical and emotional recovery.
- Ask for referrals to health care providers who specialize in the type of rehabilitation you need.
- Talk to a registered dietitian about what diet would be best for your recovery needs.
- Share your plan with your support system such as family, friends or support groups.