What is Oncology Rehabilitation?

From Guest Blogger Bettina Neumann of Rising Sun Physical Therapy

Bettina Neumann, PT, CST, LLCC, is a licensed Physical Therapist in California and Germany, as well as a certified CranioSacral Therapist and Lymphedema Specialist. She is the founder and owner of Rising Sun Physical Therapy, Inc.


How Can Physical Therapy Help Patients Recover From Cancer?   

 A cancer diagnosis changes everything, brutally ripping people out of their normal lives. From feeling reasonably well to a flurry of tests and procedures, things move fast for patients post-diagnosis. There are a host of decisions to be made regarding treatment and care.

 Typical cancer treatment methods are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or some combination of two or more of these. All of these options have potential side-effects and can open a patient up to additional risks, both during and after treatment. Common side-effects of cancer treatment are weakness, fatigue, reduced range of motion in the affected area, coordination and balance issues, decreased endurance, pain and discomfort, and swelling. The long list of side-effects can be depressing and frustrating. It feels like just more bad news and many patients wonder if the cure isn’t as bad as the disease.

The good news is that there is help. Physical therapy can help in all stages of cancer treatment, from initial diagnosis through active treatment and during the recovery period.

In Germany, physical therapy has been a regular tool in the cancer-fighting aresenal for over a decade. Here in the U.S. the importance of rehabilitation after cancer treatment, or using it to help maintain health during cancer treatment, has been slow to catch on. Only in recent years has its importance been acknowledged by leaders in the field.

Research shows that physical therapy treatment during and after cancer treatment can effectively improve the quality of life for patients. Physical therapy during cancer treatment can help reduce the patient’s risk for complications like lymphedema, poor self-image, impaired range of motion, or even nerve impingement. The key to lowering the risk is early intervention.

Before cancer treatment begins a physical therapist can evaluate a patient to get baseline measurements as well as assessing level of function and general physical health. After evaluation the therapist can advise patients on ways to maximize physical health before treatment starts. Physical therapists also educate patients about the risk factors for lymphedema, a swelling condition that sometimes results from damage to the lymphatic system.

During cancer treatment physical therapy helps patients maintain a sense of physical well-being and function and can aid in pain management. Proper instruction at this stage can reduce the risk of side-effects. A good PT teaches patients how to increase function in affected limbs/areas without strenuous exertion. Post-treatment physical therapy can restore full possible function for patients. It also helps them transition back to work, hobbies, and life in general.

If you or a friend or loved one have been affected by cancer, give us a call and find out how we can help make a difficult time a little better. Our goal at Rising Sun Physical Therapy is to help all of our patients improve their quality of life and independence by encouraging them to play an active role in their own recovery.

As always, feel free to call or email Bettina if you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment.               rspt@risingsunpt.com, 415-282-4083.



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