Many cancer survivors have difficulty moving and walking normally after treatments such as surgery, explains rehabilitation expert Jeannette Zucker of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. She recommends early intervention for patients who are at risk for lymphedema, a progressive swelling that can occur after lymph nodes are removed or damaged and can limit mobility in the upper body.
Walking can be a challenge for survivors with nerve damage due to chemotherapy or tumor growth, says rehabilitation medicine expert Michael Stubblefield. Patients who were treated with radiation therapy may develop internal scarring called fibrosis, which can also limit movement. Physical and occupational therapists offer a variety of exercises and strategies to help patients improve strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility after cancer treatment.