Restoring Health Through Cancer Rehabilitation Therapy
It's no secret fighting and beating cancer can take a physical and emotional toll, so how do you take charge over your body after this disease?
Recovering From Cancer Side-Effects
Cancer and cancer treatments can cause different side effects for everyone, but the process of having cancer and going through treatment is not always the easiest.
Regina Pilotte, Therapy Operations Manager at Franciscan Health in Lafayette, said patients aren't just fighting cancer, they're often fighting treatment and surgery side effects.
"Fatigue, reduced range of motion, swelling, depression, anxiety, mental fog - they're all problems that can come with treatment," Pilotte said.
Cancer Rehabilitation Therapy
Cancer rehabilitation therapy helps patients manage those problems, recover faster and get back to living a full, active life. Therapy can help patients take charge of their lives, even when going through cancer treatment.
Studies show patients who participate in cancer rehabilitation have a better quality of life and do better in the long run. Pilotte said one of the biggest benefits to therapy isn’t something patients think about at first.
"For patients with cancer, everything feels out of control the moment they're diagnosed and also throughout treatment," she said. "Therapy gives patients the opportunity to change that feeling by giving them control over something and improving their life."
Exercise can play many roles for the cancer survivor like improving range of motion, stamina and balance. Adding a physical therapist to an oncology team throughout the cancer journey can assist the cancer patient in retaining strength.
Occupational and Speech Therapy
The specialized therapy includes a mix of occupational, physical and speech therapies, personalized to each patient’s needs. Pilotte said it's never too soon to put the therapies to work.
"We like to see patients early for an evaluation," she said. "If we can see them before treatment even begins, we can do 'prehab' to build them up physically and emotionally beforehand."
Lymphedema therapy uses exercises, massage and compression garments to improve swelling, tightness and pain that may result from cancer treatment. According to the Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, the role of the physical therapist is vital to the early detection, treatment and long-term management of lymphedema. Physical therapist interventions can diminish the accumulation of fluid in the limbs and generate great functional gains.