Rehabilitation Services: Rehabilitation Medicine, Occupational & Physical Therapy

Pictured: Sharlynn Tuohy Physical therapist Sharlynn Tuohy (right) gives instruction on exercises to build strength at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation.

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If you are dealing with cancer and the effects of treatment, you might experience pain or problems with coordination, balance, strength, endurance, flexibility, or range of motion. These symptoms can affect your ability to manage ordinary tasks.

Rehabilitation therapy can help decrease pain and enable you to regain your independence in the safest and most effective way possible. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we offer both outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation services for adults and children being treated at the Center. Rehabilitation services are available throughout your treatment, recuperation, and life after cancer.

The Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation is a 22,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility located at 515 Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The facility has personal treatment bays, as well as a spacious gymnasium with state-of-the-art equipment resembling what you might find in a health club. Learn more about the Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy services are also available to inpatients if your physician makes a referral. Ask your doctor whether physical or occupational therapy could help you.

Services We Provide

Video

As an outpatient physical therapist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Sebi Varghese is at the forefront of developing creative new approaches to rehabilitation for cancer patients. Varghese and her team use a variety of methods to help patients restore range of motion, reduce pain, increase energy, and become active participants in their recovery. Taking part in someone's recovery — and hopefully opening up a new chapter in his or her life — is very satisfying, she says.

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Our rehabilitation staff includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physiatrists (physicians who specialize in rehabilitation medicine) who collaborate with other medical staff to improve our patients' well-being. Our team has expertise in therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular training, pulmonary rehabilitation, and other techniques for improving quality of life. We also provide educational resources to patients and their families.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists help patients to move and function better, and to improve their general fitness and health. We develop individualized programs for each patient, using exercises to improve balance, strength, and endurance. When needed, we can also provide patients with assistive devices such as a cane or walker.

Our physical therapists can help with:

  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Decreased balance
  • Neuropathy (tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness due to nerve damage)
  • Fatigue related to treatment for cancer
  • Scar tissue adhesions
  • Radiation fibrosis

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists can help you to regain and build skills that are important to functioning independently. We use a holistic approach to assess and treat patients with physical and mental impairments. We focus on daily activities such as dressing, bathing, eating, preparing meals, and managing the home after treatment. We can also teach you and your caregivers how to use devices that can make these activities easier. In addition to dealing with patients' physical well-being, occupational therapists can also address social and environmental issues that may be causing you trouble.

Our occupational therapists can help with:

  • Upper extremity pain
  • Loss of arm strength
  • Loss of arm range of motion
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased concentration
  • Difficulty with dressing, grooming, or bathing
  • Energy conservation
  • Core balance

Pediatric Rehabilitation Services

Our rehabilitation service offers physical and occupational therapy tailored specifically for children. 

Vestibular Rehabilitation

Patients with cancer sometimes experience persistent dizziness or a loss of balance due to problems in the inner ear. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, physical therapists trained in an exercise program called vestibular rehabilitation can determine the cause of the impairment, and then develop a set of exercises and activities to retrain your body to maintain its equilibrium. Patients who undergo vestibular rehabilitation are less likely to fall, and have improved posture.

Lymphedema Therapy

Lymphedema is a swelling of the arm, leg, groin, or head and neck that can develop when surgery or radiation treatments affect the lymph nodes. Lymphedema therapists are specialists who help patients to manage this condition. They assist in detecting lymphedema, provide clinical treatment and education, and can aid in managing the condition at home. Therapy may include:

  • manual lymph drainage
  • compression garment wear
  • skin care
  • exercise
  • patient education
  • garment fitting

Memorial Sloan Kettering's lymphedema specialists provide therapy at our main campus, in Manhattan, at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center and the Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation, both in Manhattan, and at our outpatient treatment center in Commack, Long Island.

Treatment for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Some types of cancer and treatments damage what is known as the muscular floor of the pelvis. This can cause pain in the pelvis, back, sacrum, or tailbone; urinary or fecal incontinence; or an inability to enjoy intimate physical relations. If you are a woman who is experiencing pain or dysfunction in the pelvis, our women's health physical therapists can help.

Physical therapists can identify and address the causes of these problems, and create an individualized treatment plan to address them. In many cases, we use hands-on techniques to address muscle imbalances and suggest exercises to improve muscle strength and coordination. Other treatment strategies may include biofeedback, postural training, and core-muscle strengthening.

Contact Us

Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation

515 Madison Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10022
(Entrance on 53rd Street, between Park and Madison Avenues)
646-888-1900
Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday

Inpatient Rehabilitation Service

1275 York Avenue, Room H-108
New York, NY 10065
212-639-7833
Hours of operation: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday to Friday

Lymphedema therapy is also available at:

Memorial Sloan Kettering West Harrison (Opening October 2014)
500 Westchester Avenue
West Harrison, NY 10604

Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center

300 East 66th Street
New York, NY 10065
646-888-5200

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Commack

650 Commack Road
Commack, NY 11725-5404
631-623-4000