The rehabilitation therapists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) 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.
Our oncology rehabilitation team includes licensed physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists and massage therapists.
Throughout your cancer treatment, rehabilitation therapies can help you maintain your quality of life in several ways:
As part of your cancer treatment, our physical therapists can help you design an individualized and creative exercise program that combines range-of-motion training with resistance exercises. These therapeutic exercises aim to minimize your fatigue and optimize your physical function, safety and well-being. For patients who experience challenges with swallowing following radiation treatment, our physical therapists and speech pathologists work together, striving to improve quality of life, including offering therapy to support hydration and nutrition.
Our 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. Some patients experience issues with thinking and memory during treatment for cancer. Our cognitive training program combines occupational therapy and speech therapy to help patients improve attention, focus, memory, problem-solving skills and ability to complete daily tasks.
Speech and language pathology
Many cancer patients benefit from speech and language pathology. Therapists address problems such as dry mouth, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), loss of voice and cognitive changes that can result from cancer treatment. For patients preparing for surgery in the head and neck region, our speech pathologists will partner with you and your surgeon before and after the surgery in order to optimize treatment results. Because each patient is unique, our speech pathology team will develop an individualized plan to meet your specific needs.
Our massage therapists can help reduce your cancer-related pain and improve your quality of life during your treatment.
This painless, non-invasive form of oncology rehabilitation, 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, fatigue, shortness of breath, and balance and coordination problems.
This method aims to improve peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, or loss of reflexes in different parts of the body. The technique involves an electronic stimulation to the area of peripheral neuropathy, such as the hands or feet, to increase tactile sensory and awareness.
Lymphedema prevention and treatment
Lymphedema is a condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. Our oncology rehabilitation team combines gentle range-of-motion exercises and massage to either prevent lymphedema, or reduce the swelling associated with this condition. For some patients, we may also recommend surgical options for the treatment of lymphedema after non-surgical therapeutic approaches have been exhausted.
CTCA® offers a wide range of additional services/programs to promote a faster and more complete recovery for cancer patients receiving radiation therapy, surgery or drug-based treatments, including:
- Programs to address incontinence
- Weight management/movement program
- Support for sexual health
- Support for fatigue and sleep disturbances
- Prehabilitation to prepare your body for cancer before treatment
The oncology rehabilitation team at Western
Led by Director of Oncology Rehabilitation Services Lisa Poormon, the oncology rehabilitation team at CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center (Western) consists of caring and experienced physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists and massage therapists.
According to Poormon, the goal of the oncology rehabilitation team is to get you back to functioning as you did before the cancer diagnosis. “Whether it’s running a marathon, playing with the kids, or getting the mail, we have targeted therapies to help cancer patients strengthen their bodies and reduce fatigue,” she says.
The team works closely with the other clinical areas of the hospital, including mind-body medicine, naturopathic medicine, and pulmonology, to integrate your treatment plan.
With our Motion for Life Program, our oncology rehabilitation team will develop a personalized exercise regimen for you and teach you how to exercise with the goal of maximizing your energy, instead of depleting it. "We show patients how to boost their energy through exercising," says White. "We monitor their fatigue during the process to ensure that they are improving their quality of life and not hindering it."
Among the innovative rehabilitation therapies at Western, White notes that Wii Fit™ is very popular. This interactive game created by Nintendo® offers players the opportunity to engage in yoga, aerobics and strength training.