Cancer Care Physical Therapy
Cancer and its treatment can cause debilitating side effects for patients, compromising their function and quality of life. Fortunately, research has shown that physical therapy during and after cancer treatment can help speed functional recovery, boost immune response, reduce fatigue and reduce risk of complications in people of any age.
Patients undergoing cancer treatment may experience one or more of the following side effects:
- Decreased muscle strength
- Decreased bone density
- Peripheral neuropathy related to chemotherapy
- Lymphedema or swelling disorders
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty sleeping
- Formation of scar tissue
- Postural changes
- Muscle imbalances
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Importance of Physical Therapy During Cancer Treatment
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.
Comprehensive cancer institutes throughout the United States as well as the National Cancer Care Survivorship (NCCS) endorse exercise for cancer patients.
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Your cancer care physical therapist can provide individualized physical assessment and treatment for the following:
- Weakness secondary to disease, treatment or muscle atrophy
- Limited flexibility/range of motion
- Fatigue/decreased endurance
- Pain management
- Impaired balance
- Decreased cardiovascular fitness/deconditioning secondary to cancer and its treatment
- Scar tissue management after surgery
- Peripheral neuropathy -- numbness/tingling/decreased balance or walking
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