Sharlynn Tuohy, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, says it is important to help patients identify realistic functional goals that will allow them to return to their normal routines.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can have a very real impact on a patient’s ability to function independently, says occupational therapist Claudine Campbell of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Occupational therapists develop strategies to help patients perform everyday activities such as getting dressed and bathing. Physical therapists offer exercises to help patients improve strength, balance, and mobility.
Some conditions, such as radiation fibrosis (a progressive breakdown of tissue caused by the overproduction of a protein called fibrin) and lymphedema (swelling that occurs after lymph nodes have been removed or damaged), may not appear until long after treatment has ended. Rehabilitation specialists are experienced in identifying and treating these conditions.