Cancer Rehabilitation: We’re Committed to Helping Patients Recover

Many patients undergoing cancer treatment may experience one or more of the following side effects: fatigue, pain, muscle weakness, decreased bone density, numbness in hands and feet, lymphedema (swelling in the limbs), difficulty walking, difficulty sleeping, development of scar tissue, and muscle imbalances. 

Fortunately, research has shown that cancer rehabilitation (physical, occupational, speech and swallowing, and lymphedema therapy) during and after cancer treatment can help speed functional recovery, boost immune response, reduce fatigue, reduce risk of complications and improve the quality of life.

The Many Therapies for Cancer Rehabilitation

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy at Saint Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services
Physical Therapy at STARS

A physical therapist aims to improve your quality of life and independence by improving your ability to be active and comfortable. Physical therapists evaluate functional abilities and will work with you to reduce pain, improve mobility, and restore physical function and performance. Depending on your condition, you may focus on reducing fatigue and pain and on increasing flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and/or balance.  

Maintaining strength during cancer treatments helps to prevent or reduce the risk of complications, such as infection, as well as to enhance quality of life. Physical Therapy helps patients and their caregivers regain a sense of hope and control over their health by teaching proper and safe exercise to rebuild function, endurance, and muscle and bone strength. Even a small amount of exercise can help patients decrease side effects and provide benefits such as decreased anxiety and an increased sense of control.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy at STARS

Occupational therapists address common side effects of cancer or its treatment including fatigue, pain, weakness, cognitive difficulties, anxiety or depression, and changes in self-esteem or self-image. This is accomplished through intervention aimed at restoring the ability to accomplish activities of daily living. Occupational Therapists also develop exercise programs to improve strength and mobility; modifying activities and teaching methods to conserve energy, or modifying environments in the workplace, home, or community.

Lymphedema Therapy

Lymphedema therapist’s goal of treatment is to control the swelling and other problems caused by lymphedema. The treatment for lymphedema is called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which includes manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, therapeutic exercise, skin and nail care, compression garment fitting and personalized education in self-care.

Speech and Swallowing Therapy

Our speech and swallowing therapists are specially trained to treat swallowing and vocal problems associated with head and neck cancer treatment. During and after head and neck cancer treatment, many people develop difficulty with swallowing and speech. Our therapists work with patients to bring a comprehensive understanding of the anatomical changes in mouth and throat tissues caused by surgery and radiation therapy.  Some side effects of cancer treatment that may also cause swallowing difficulties include:

  • Mucositis (soreness, pain, or inflammation in the throat, esophagus, or mouth)
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) from radiation or chemotherapy
  • Infections of the mouth or esophagus from radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Swelling or constriction (narrowing) of the throat or esophagus from radiation therapy or surgery
  • Physical changes to the mouth, jaws, throat, esophagus as a result of surgery

Relieving side effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment. Talk with your health care team about any symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Incontinence Therapy

Some cancer treatments can cause or exacerbate bladder or bowel problems, may cause pelvic pain, or may cause difficulty or pain with intercourse.  These complications of cancer treatment can be helped with physical therapy.  The goal is to normalize muscle function as much as possible and teach self-management strategies.

We offer you a personalized cancer rehabilitation plan

After undergoing treatment for cancer, you may experience some of the side-effects of treatment.  Don’t feel that you must get used to a “new normal”.  Rehabilitation can help reduce fatigue and teach you ways to modify your activities and increase your quality of life.   Your therapist can design a personalized rehabilitation plan, with the goals of increasing strength and energy, alleviating pain, improving physical functioning, achieving emotional balance and boosting the immune system.

Our Services Support Your Recovery

Rather than using a “problem oriented” approach and treating each health issue as it arises, we address the full spectrum of post-cancer care. When evaluating a patient, in addition to focusing on his or her health conditions and symptoms, we take into consideration: diet, sleep issues, existing pain, endurance, strength, exercise habits and emotional outlook. All of these factors have an important effect on physical healing.

We Can Help!

Our specialized cancer rehabilitation program serves all individuals in need, whether they are at the beginning of treatment, at the completion of treatment, or experiencing late effects from treatment completed long ago. Whether living with cancer as a chronic disease or in remission, we can help individuals return to the activities they enjoy.