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Cancer Rehabilitation can Improve Quality of Life

25 February 2015

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Patient with nurse in cancer rehabilitation
Cancer treatment, though effective against the disease, is sometimes hard on the body and the mind leaving side effects that often outlast the cancer itself. Cancer survivors have physical problems due to the various treatments they undergo. The goal of cancer rehabilitation is to minimize these side effects and to encourage cancer survivors to have the best quality of life possible. This type of therapy can address problems from any type of cancer. Cancer rehabilitation provides patients with coordinated care between specially trained physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, dieticians, and social workers to create individualized treatment programs. Cancer rehabilitation can improve symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty with memory and concentration, muscle or joint pain, weakness, swelling of the limbs, balance problems, swallowing or speech issues. The focus of this type of therapy is to increase strength and energy, manage pain, and to provide recommendations and valuable tips involving exercise, nutrition, and sleep all to improve overall function. Most survivors do not receive the rehabilitation services that would help them to physically and emotionally heal as well as possible. Cancer rehabilitation can improve a patients’ quality of life, whether they are going through treatment now, finished recently or long ago. Cancer rehabilitation can help to lessen and alleviate impairments and allow patients to function at a higher level sooner than later. A special area of focus of cancer rehabilitation is pre-habilitation, which occurs between the time of cancer diagnosis and the beginning of acute treatment. Pre-habilitation includes evaluations and interventions that are designed to obtain a baseline status and strategize how to respond to pain and/or functional limits prior to beginning cancer treatment. Pre-habilitation can lead to better long-term outcomes. The need for cancer rehabilitation has become recognized for the ability to help provide complete care for cancer survivors, helping them to recover to their pre-diagnosis status instead of making do with a “new normal.”

Can cancer rehabilitation help me

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions that will help you learn more about cancer rehabilitation and how it might help you cope with your cancer and/or cancer treatment(s).
  1. What is cancer rehabilitation?Cancer rehabilitation is much like other forms of rehabilitation that happen after a serious illness or injury such as a stroke or car accident. Medical services may include appointments with and treatments recommended by medical professionals, including physiatrists (doctors who specialize in rehabilitation medicine); nurses; physical, occupational and/or speech therapists.
  2. What types of problems can be treated with cancer rehabilitation?Rehabilitation professionals can help you cope with a wide variety of cancer and/or treatment-related conditions and their symptoms. These might include, but are not limited to, pain, weakness, tiredness (fatigue), shoulder problems, balance and walking (gait) problems, memory and concentration issues, swallowing and speech problems and swelling (lymphedema).
  3. How will I know if cancer rehabilitation can help me?If you have any problems that you didn’t have before your diagnosis, especially if they interfere with your ability to do the things that you need or want to do, cancer rehabilitation can likely help you.
  4. Will my insurance cover cancer rehabilitation?Your cancer rehabilitation care is provided by professionals with health care degrees and licenses in rehabilitation medicine then medical insurance should cover some or all of the costs. These covered items usually include appointments with and treatments recommended by physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and even speech therapists. As with all insurance issues, check with your carrier about deductibles, co-pays and limits.
For more information, talk to your oncologist or call405-773-6601 with any questions.