Karen Gilbert, PT, LLCC
National Director of Oncology Rehabilitation
Southwestern Regional Medical Center
- BS, Physical Therapy - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Licensed Physical Therapist
- Certified Lymphedema Therapist
- Certified Auriculotherapist
Practicing Since: 1976
As Director of Oncology Rehabilitation at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center, Karen Gilbert leads an integrated team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists and massage therapists. Gilbert and her oncology rehabilitation team are committed to helping you perform at your optimal level at all times.
A licensed physical therapist and certified lymphedema therapist, Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Michigan. She has participated in multicenter investigational rheumatology research on fibromyalgia. Gilbert also facilitates a lymphedema support group for breast cancer survivors.
Drawn to the whole-person philosophy of CTCA, Gilbert joined Southwestern’s Oncology Rehabilitation Department in 1997. “Keeping fit and functional while receiving cancer treatment is a multifaceted task that realizes the best outcomes by focusing on the entire physiological, psychosocial and spiritual systems of our patients," says Gilbert.
In January 2007, Gilbert was appointed to the position of National Director of Oncology Rehabilitation to assist CTCA in coordinating and enhancing oncology rehabilitation programs and services across the regional centers.
Gilbert and her team assess patients’ current status, and work closely with them throughout their cancer treatment to help them regain their strength, energy and independence. They strive to help patients maintain the highest level of independent function while doing those activities they feel are valuable and important. “Patients desire to continue those activities that they feel give their lives meaning and that give them a since of autonomy and health," she says. "They want to continue their interaction with family and friends, to attend weddings and holidays. They want to be self-sufficient and continue making informed decisions concerning their healthcare."
In addition to traditional rehabilitation therapies, Gilbert and her team also offer therapies specific to patients’ cancer type, like lymph drainage therapy for breast cancer patients and neuromuscular re-education with electrical stimulation for patients with head and neck cancer.
Gilbert and her team also help patients anticipate changing functional needs as they prepare to leave the center, easing the return to home life. “Our patients are decidedly motivated to keep healthy and not lose confidence in their own ability to enjoy living,” she adds.