Cancer Rehabilitative Services
Has cancer affected your life? AAMG Physical Therapy can help — either before, during or after you’ve completed your cancer treatment.
We understand the challenges of cancer treatment. You’re often left with a range of side effects. These can include fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness, balance issues, trouble swallowing, memory issues, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, increased swelling, peripheral neuropathy and an inability to return to your previous level of functioning.
The effects of treatment are too numerous for anyone to manage alone. That’s why our team of physical, occupational and speech-language therapists are trained to work with you as part of your cancer treatment. We help ease the physical, mental and social issues you may experience so you can focus on healing.
Plus, our team coordinates with your cancer care providers at Anne Arundel Medical Center’s DeCesaris Cancer Institute.
Before Your Cancer Treatment
You can take action before you start cancer treatment through prehabilitation, or “pre-hab.” Pre-hab provides the best chance of keeping your physical abilities while lessening side effects through the course of your cancer treatment. Our therapists can help you better prepare for the treatment of and recovery from your cancer.
We personalize your pre-hab program based on your diagnosis and treatment plan. Cancer pre-hab can positively impact most of the common physical side effects of cancer treatment. These include swelling after breast cancer surgery, incontinence with pelvic cancer treatment, or swallowing concerns with head and neck cancer treatment.
Pre-hab can involve one or more appointments. These visits allow your therapist to assess your pre-treatment physical abilities, provide education on what to expect with treatment and offer advice on treatment options. We design either a supervised or home-exercise-based training program to help you build strength, stamina and function.
What to Expect From Cancer Rehabilitative Services
We assemble a cancer rehabilitation team for you that may include physical, occupational or speech-language therapy. The team develops a plan based on your individualized goals. The plan focuses on increasing your strength and energy while managing pain and improving your daily activity. Everyone has the common goal to help you achieve your highest quality of life.
Cancers we treat include:
- Head and neck
- And others.
Our therapy can help:
- Attention and word finding
- Balancing and falling
- Bone, joint or muscle pain
- Cognitive fatigue
- Memory issues
- Muscle weakness
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Speech issues
- Swallowing difficulties
- And tingling in the limbs.
Understanding Different Therapies for Cancer
Research shows exercise is an important part of any cancer rehab program. Research also supports the use of exercise to treat cancer-related pain and specific cancers like breast, endometrial, prostate, lung and colorectal.
Exercise therapy can help:
- Improve cardiopulmonary function
- Strengthen muscles
- Improve bone mineral density
- Improve body weight
- Decrease fatty tissue mass
- Decrease fatigue
- And increase quality of life.
Your plan may include:
After chemotherapy, occupational therapy helps you return to your normal activities. It also helps increase independence with tasks like buttoning shirts, typing and tying shoes.
Occupational therapy can help:
- Improve fine motor skills/coordination
- Normalize sensation from chemotherapy-induced nerve damage
- Manage lymphedema
- Address upper extremity weakness and/or pain
- Increase independence with daily living skills
- And improve and train vision.
You should expect to:
- Complete a full evaluation to assess cognition, vision, sensation, range of motion, strength and coordination
- And recover the ability to do normal activities like dressing, eating, bathing, cleaning and driving.
Rehabilitation after treating head and neck cancer can be complicated. It can involve therapy for speech, swallowing, breathing, pain, fatigue, and cervical and shoulder dysfunction. Speech therapy also treats voice issues that may happen after surgery or radiation.
Speech language therapy can help:
- Improve the ability to open the jaw
- Improve swallowing issues
- Improve speech issues
- Care for nutritional needs, including weaning from tube feedings
- Gain a better quality of life
- Manage pain
- And treat vocal issues.
You should expect:
- Oral motor exercises to strengthen and improve your ability to swallow safely
- Neck and shoulder exercises to improve pain and flexibility, and reduce scar tissue
- Education on ways to swallow
- Education on treatment for jaw opening issues, including use of TheraBite®
- Nutritional counseling and diet changes based on swallowing assessments
- And referral to physical therapy if we suspect lymphedema.
How to Get Started With Cancer Rehabilitative Services
Make an appointment with one of your medical providers: your primary care, oncologist or specialist. Your medical provider determines your needs and ability to participate in rehabilitation safely. If rehab is appropriate, the doctor gives a referral.