Rehabilitation is an expected aspect of surgeries like knee or hip replacement, as patients work to restore their bodies to full function. But what about patients recovering from cancer-related procedures?
Nearly 90 percent of cancer patients who undergo some form of treatment are left with at least one physical impairment, according to OSF HealthCare. Rehabilitation can provide help for cancer patients, but only 60 percent of them seek such an approach — a number that may be on the rise as cancer rehabilitation gains in popularity.
After common cancer treatments like chemotherapy, patients may experience memory problems, fatigue, tingling skin and more. Breast-cancer patients, in particular, are at risk for swelling in the arms after treatment or surgery, which can make just moving their arms a chore.
That’s where rehabilitation comes in.
Cancer rehab can include physical therapy, as well as occupational or speech therapy — whatever area a patient notices a deficit in, he or she can address the issue with rehabilitation.
People can seek services at traditional rehabilitation centers or they may instead choose to take part in a program designed specifically to offer help for cancer patients and survivors.
For instance, OSF’s Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation effort provides rehab tailored to people bouncing back from a cancer diagnosis: whether they are just starting treatment, recently in remission or still experiencing residual effects years later.
In just the last year, OSF’s patient referrals to STAR have doubled. It is renaming the program OSF Cancer Rehabilitation Program in December.
BroMenn Medical Center is another resource for cancer rehab — and it’s also seeing growing interest. Twice a month, the organization holds a clinic to help breast-cancer survivors learn how to manage swelling, and attendance grows with each session.
Rehabilitation for cancer patients is a sensible approach — and, thankfully, one that is covered by most insurance plans.