Oral Cancer Oncology Rehabilitation
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Video: Oncology RehabilitationOncology Rehabilitation
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, we integrate oncology rehabilitation into treatment plans to help patients stay physically strong so they can tolerate cancer treatment and continue to participate in everyday activities.
Oncology Rehabilitation for Oral Cancer
Our rehabilitation therapists help you build strength and endurance, regain independence, reduce stress, and maintain the energy you need to participate in activities that are important to you throughout your oral cancer treatment.
The oncology rehabilitation team at CTCA includes licensed physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists.
As part of your oral cancer treatment, our physical therapists can help you design an individualized exercise program that combines range-of-motion training with light resistance exercises. These therapeutic exercises aim to minimize your fatigue and optimize your physical function, safety and well-being.
Importantly, all physical therapy programs are designed so that you can continue useful exercises at home on your own, so that your recovery does not need to rely completely on visits to the center.
Our oncology rehabilitation team’s occupational therapists can help you with daily living activities that are important to your routine and quality of life, such as dressing, showering and eating.
Speech and Language Pathology
At CTCA, most oral cancer patients have all facial structures preserved and intact following treatment. However, many oral cancer patients will benefit from speech and language pathology during treatment and/or afterwards.
Our therapists address problems such as dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of voice and cognitive changes that can result from cancer treatment. Our speech pathologists and oncology rehabilitation professionals offer several approaches to help patients who are experiencing changes following oral cancer treatment:
- Auricular acupuncture: This therapy, done without needles, stimulates the saliva glands. For patients experiencing a dry mouth during or after treatment, this technique can help maintain proper moisture, which is essential for swallowing, speaking, and an overall good quality of life.
- Muscle exercises: Specific movements to strengthen the tongue can lead to significant improvements in speech and swallowing.
- Electric stimulation: Another way to address muscular problems after treatment is with electric stimulation. With this approach, safe and gentle stimuli are applied to help trigger the tongue and other muscles that are essential for speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
- Biofeedback: Our oncology rehabilitation team can also work with you to restore any lost or weak muscle through biofeedback. This approach enables patients to see a direct link between their efforts and the movement of internal muscles. For example, an endoscopist can insert a camera that shows movement of the laryngeal tissue during swallowing. This visualization assists the patient with strengthening the connection between the neurological pathways that lead to swallowing and the action itself.
- Fibrosis/scarring examinations: For patients who receive radiation therapy, follow-up examinations by a speech pathologist can be essential. Often, fibrosis, or scar tissue, can develop in the weeks following radiation. This scarring can make it difficult to open the mouth, and, in severe cases, can close off the airways during eating. Because scarring is difficult to predict, regular visits with our oral cancer oncology rehabilitation team will help ensure that any potential problem is caught and treated early.
- Tracheoesophageal puncture: For patients who undergo a laryngectomy as part of their treatment, an artificial speaking device, called a tracheoesophageal puncture, may be inserted into the throat wall. Our oral cancer oncology rehabilitation specialists work closely with patients on proper use of the device, to help ensure a smooth transition following treatment.
- Tracheotomy speaking valve: For patients who undergo a tracheotomy, a valve can be placed over the end of the tube to help facilitate speech.
- At-home regimens: At CTCA, we are committed to equipping patients with the know-how and confidence to take control of their lives following treatment for oral cancer. Our specialists can provide you with exercise regimens and other suggestions that will help you recover and improve the quality of your life.
Our massage therapists can help reduce your cancer-related pain and improve your quality of life during your oral cancer treatment.
This painless, non-invasive treatment, which involves stimulation of the auricle of the external ear, can help alleviate some of the side effects of cancer treatments, such as pain, nausea or fatigue
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