Friday, September 12, 2014
INTEGRIS Now STAR Certified in Oncology Rehabilitation
Program Addresses Unique Health Issues Caused by Cancer Treatment
OKLAHOMA CITY – Patients who undergo cardiac bypass or joint replacement surgery are routinely given specific instructions on the exercises and therapies they will need, to return to their everyday activities. For cancer patients, this is not the case.
After undergoing the sometimes harsh and debilitating treatments necessary to save their life, there is often little help for a return to normalcy for cancer patients. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can cause serious medical problems that interfere with daily function and well-being. Survivors are commonly plagued with symptoms such as pain, discomfort, fatigue, weakness, insomnia, memory loss, fear, anxiety and depression. Until recently, very little was being done to address these lingering effects.
Thanks to the Survivorship Training and Rehab program, known as STAR, an increasing number of hospitals around the country are now offering programs to provide cancer patients with comprehensive rehabilitation services both during and after treatment.
After four months of rigorous training, INTEGRIS Cancer Institute and INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation recently received STAR certification and implemented the first such program in the metro.
“At INTEGRIS we are committed to offering the best survivorship services available,” says Phil Lance, president of INTEGRIS Cancer Institute. “We are now uniquely qualified to offer premium oncology rehabilitation services to cancer survivors undergoing treatment or living with its aftermath. Our program has been created to help survivors physically and emotionally heal from the side effects of treatments.”
The INTEGRIS STAR program offers important physical and psychological rehabilitation to survivors so they can recover more quickly and more completely than they would otherwise. Feeling well and being able to resume normal day-to-day activities is essential to enjoying a good quality of life for survivors and their families.
A team of medical specialists including physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and swallowing therapists, registered dietitians and nutritionists are assigned to each patient according to his or her individual needs. They create personalized rehabilitation plans, with the hope of increasing strength and energy, alleviating pain, improving physical functioning, achieving emotional balance and boosting the immune system.
“The STAR training helps me as a therapist understand what effects cancer treatment has on the body to allow me to adjust my treatments to ensure optimal recovery,” explains Christa Newgent, a clinical manager with Jim Thorpe Outpatient Rehabilitation. “For example, we might do range of motion exercises and manual stretching for a tight shoulder on a traditional patient, but with our training, we understand that we need to modify these techniques to ensure we are not causing harm to tissue that is healing from undergoing radiation therapy.”
The INTEGRIS STAR program officially launched this month. But an internal test program began in June. To date, 17 patients have received this type of extensive specialized care.
Seventy-one-year-old Donna Gillenwaters of Chickasha, Okla., is one of them. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. Chemotherapy left her feeling fatigued and off balance. She says the physical therapy she has received through the STAR program seems to be working. “I go two times a week and I see improvement in my strength, endurance and balance every time I go. I had arthritis and back issues before I was diagnosed with cancer, so you might say because of this therapy I am in better shape now than I was even before my chemo,” claims Gillenwaters.
For some, the program is temporary; for others it will be ongoing. For more information or to make an appointment, call 405-773-6601.