Susan Eckhardt, MS, OTR/L: What we do is we look at what the deficits are where people are on the functional evaluation scale. How much activity do you have? Are you pretty mobile but haven’t started treatment yet, so that with treatment you might get more fatigue? Or are you at a point where you’re 50% of the time either in a chair or in bed?
So we devise a unique exercise program, the physical therapists do, to help you overcome this cancer-related fatigue. We teach people how to take their heart rate so that they don’t over-exert themselves. Often times when people start exercise they overdo it, and they don’t gain what they need to from it. They actually cause more fatigue. The occupational therapist looks at how people perform their activities in daily life. Within this, it’s called a Borg rate of perceived exertion. So we teach people how to do their bathing, their dressing, so that isn’t over exertion. We also teach them techniques about energy conservation and work simplification so that they can complete everything that they need to while not depleting their energy, but increasing their endurance.
This also helps because were addressing quality of life issues, each of our patients come to us with individual quality of life. Some people want to get back to playing with their children, other people want to return to work, and by building this level of endurance, and the ability to complete their physical activities we’re enabling them to do that.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we integrate oncology rehabilitation into treatment plans to help patients stay physically strong so they can tolerate conventional cancer treatment and continue to participate in everyday activities.