Oncology Rehabilitation Combats Effects of Cancer Treatment

“How do I tell someone to exercise during cancer treatment, when I don’t exercise myself”?  This is what I was told by a radiation nurse when I asked her what restrictions I had during my own treatment for cancer. 

During my treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) for cancer recurrence, I exercised as regularly as I could. As an occupational therapist and health-care professional, I wanted to know if there were any physical restrictions I needed to be aware of post-surgery and during chemotherapy and radiation.

At that time, it was difficult to find anyone who could answer my specific questions regarding exercise during cancer treatment. Fortunately, in recent years there has been more research on the benefits of exercise for cancer patients, and I myself have received training in meeting the rehabilitation needs of people with cancer.

The need for therapists with advanced training in oncology rehabilitation is growing. The number of people diagnosed with cancer each year is increasing: more than 1.6 million men and women this year alone. With the survival rate greater than five years for half of all cancers, this means there are many more people living with the effects of cancer and its treatment.

Medical treatments for cancer can leave patients with acute and/or chronic conditions that impact everyday activities and quality of life, such as:

  • Cancer-related fatigue
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Chemo brain" and other memory or cognitive deficits
  • Pain
  • Limitations in range of motion and muscle strength
  • Cardiac and pulmonary deficits
  • Lymphedema

If you, a friend or loved one is going through cancer treatment, here is a list of questions to determine if oncology rehabilitation would be beneficial: 

  • Do you have difficulty completing everyday or leisure activities due to fatigue or shortness of breath?
  • Do you have difficulty standing up from a chair that does not have arms?
  • Are you having trouble picking up or playing with children?
  • Are you unable to reach into a cabinet?
  • Are you unable to hook a bra or put a wallet in your back pocket?
  • Do you have muscle or joint pain?
  • Do you have tingling or numbness?
  • Do you have swelling or heaviness in part of your body?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should speak to your doctor to determine if a referral for a physical, occupational or speech therapy evaluation is recommended.

At Good Shepherd Physical Therapy – Souderton, our staff members have special training in oncology rehabilitation, exercise for cancer patients and lymphedema therapy.

I highly recommend therapy and exercise during and after cancer treatment. In addition to helping you cope with the fatigue and other physical and cognitive effects associated with treatment, our staff can help you by providing a bridge to a host of support services, from support groups to complementary medicine.

For more information on Good Shepherd's programs and services, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us to request an appointment.

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