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Rehab Before Treatment

Posted 8/4/2015

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  As paradoxical as this may initially sound, it makes perfect sense (to me anyway) that rehab before treatment may be a very effective way of helping us better weather what lies ahead. Rehab should perhaps be replaced by another word: conditioning? getting as strong as possible? open to any suggestions here....

  Since we know from a number of studies that people who continue with mild to moderate exercise feel better through chemotherapy and radiation than their more sedentary  peers, we can extrapolate that most of these people probably were exercising before diagnosis. There can't be many people whose first reaction to a cancer diagnosis is to run out and join a gym.

 But, if you have already been running or walking or regularly lifting weights and using the elliptical machine, it would be reasonable to continue to do so. Many of us believe that physical exercise helps our heads and reduces stress; surely the time around diagnosis and treatment is an important time to try anything to feel more in control and less stressed out. So, continuing to speculate here, those people who were previously exercising and who continue to do so probably feel better. And they could be counted as participating in pre-treatment rehab.

  I know that I continued my usual pathetic exercise routines through chemo both times. In 1993, I ran almost every day. I have a pitiful, strong memory of cupping my very sore burned (from radiation) breast as I ran; the juggling hurt. Hopefully, I had enough common sense to then take a few days off. In 2005, I went to the gym per usual almost every morning, but I did reduce my routines. Both of these behaviors were more about my being stubborn and refusing to give up a single thing to cancer that wasn't absolutely necessary--and not so much about any rational attempt to feel better. But I did.

  From Kaiser Health News comes this article:

To Boost Patient Health, Rehab Sometimes Starts Before Cancer

By Michelle Andrews

Cancer patients who do rehabilitation before they begin treatment may recover more quickly from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, some cancer specialists say. But insurance coverage for cancer “prehabilitation,” as it’s called, can be spotty, especially if the aim is to prevent problems rather than treat existing ones.
It seems intuitive that people’s health during and after invasive surgery or a toxic course of chemo or radiation can be improved by being as physically and psychologically fit as possible going into it. But research to examine the impact of prehab is in the beginning stages.
Prehabilitation is commonly associated with orthopedic operations such as knee and hip replacements or cardiac procedures. Now there’s growing interest in using prehab in cancer care as well to prepare for treatment and minimize some of the long-term physical impairments that often result from treatment, such as heart and balance problems.
“It’s really the philosophy of rehab, rebranded,” says Dr. Samman Shahpar, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation
Institute of Chicago.


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