When you are going through cancer treatment, PT or physical therapy may not be one of the first things you consider. Some people have surgeries that automatically stimulate a PT referral, but most do not. I was lucky enough to consult with a wonderful physical therapist before my mastectomy ten years ago, knowing that there would be exercises that I could do to speed recovery and built strength. What I didn't realize was that there were also exercises that I could (and did) do prior to surgery.
It turns out that physical therapy can be helpful in all kinds of ways for people going through or recovering from cancer treatment. Most insurances will cover the cost, and most doctors are happy to make a referral. This is a very good article from Cure Today:
What is the Role of Physical Therapy in Cancer Recovery?
When someone is undergoing cancer treatment, physical therapy may not be the first healthcare field that comes to mind. Early cancer treatment is met with oncologists, radiologists, nurses and surgeons. Rightly so, as these healthcare practicioners are essential to the treatment and management of cancer. However, you should also consider the role of physical therapy in your cancer recovery.
Cancer rehabilitation is a growing area in medicine due to the increase in cancer survivorship. More and more individuals are beating cancer because of advances in medical technology, treatment and early detection. According to recent research from the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate of all cancers that were diagnosed between 2003 and 2009 is 68 percent. This is a 20 percent increase from 1975 to 1977. It is also estimated that over 13 million Americans have a history of cancer, and in 2014
there were an expected 1.6 million new cases. This means that the number of cancer survivors will continue to increase in the U.S.
With more cancer survivors, there will need to be more recovery strategies.
Cancer treatment is a grueling course, leaving many people exhausted, weak and with a compromised immune system. Just getting out of bed can be a huge and daunting task, let alone exercising in a gymnasium or playing at the park with grandchildren. This is where a physical therapist comes in. Despite advances in medical treatments, individuals that receive cancer treatments typically
experience extensive physical limitations during and after treatments. These limitations include and are not limited to cancer-related fatigue (CRF), pain, nerve damage, lymphedema, deconditioning, as well as incontinence.
There is strong evidence to support conservative management of these impairments through physical therapy. As each individual experiences different impairments during and after cancer treatment, it is important to have an individualized evaluation to focus your rehabilitation. Physical therapy can address common cancer related impairments including: