By Jewel Johl, MD
The concept of rehabilitation has been widely accepted in cardiac and pulmonary care, and in recovery from traumatic and orthopedic injuries, but few understand how important this concept can be for cancer patients.
Almost 70 percent of cancer patients report fatigue and overall de-conditioning during treatment. Other complaints that many cancer patients have include muscle atrophy and decreased bone density, medication side effects, loss of stamina, balance problems and lymphedema. Currently there are very few institutions and cancer centers that offer formal oncology rehabilitation services and these services are often omitted from cancer survivorship programs.
An oncology rehabilitation program should be designed to educate, support and empower patients who have, or have had cancer and to allow them optimal function and quality of life during and after their cancer treatments. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines say “rehabilitation should begin with a cancer diagnosis and should continue even after cancer treatment ends.”
Oncology specific physical therapists can help patients overcome physical obstacles during treatment, and provide tools for independent participation in a plan to remain healthy and vibrant after cancer treatment. Patients who have lymphedema of any body part, restricted mobility, scar tissue formation after surgery, fatigue, de-conditioning or weakness, balance problems, difficulty walking, weight gain and decreased muscle mass can benefit from early intervention in an oncology rehabilitation program.
At Diablo Valley Oncology, we have developed a state-of-the-art Physical Therapy and Lifestyle Center to meet the growing needs of cancer patients. Our lead therapist, Alison Taba, is a licensed physical therapist with special training in oncology rehabilitation and lymphedema therapy. Alison and our team of physical therapy specialists provide cancer rehabilitation services to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing cancer treatment and survivors of cancer to enable them to improve their quality of life and to help them successfully integrate back into society.
In addition to physical therapy, our Lifestyle Center provides nutritional services by Tinrin Chew, RD, who specializes in providing oncology specific nutrition counseling for cancer patients. Other services include group exercise classes and educational programs. Additional integrative health services will be incorporated in 2013.
Our Physical Therapy and Lifestyle Center is the only one in the East Bay area and of the few in Northern California to provide cancer specific rehabilitation services. Diablo Valley Physical Therapy & Lifestyle Center can be reached by calling 925-400-9570.