What to Expect
As the ranks of cancer survivors grow, the need for specialized cancer rehabilitation increases. The goals of the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program at Mary Free Bed are to:
Improve quality of life and independence by helping you regain and maintain cognitive, emotional and physical function
Provide assistance and education to you and your caregivers
Cancer Side Effects
It’s not unusual to have a number of side effects either from cancer, its treatment or both. Here are some of the side effects that we treat:
Most Common Side Effects
Cognitive challenges: Called “chemobrain” or “chemofog,” patients have difficulty with memory, processing thoughts, concentration, multitasking and performing daily activities
Decreased strength or range of motion
Peripheral neuropathies: Numbness, tingling, pain in hands and feet
Additional Side Effects
Bowel and bladder management
Difficulty with walking and higher-level balance
Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
Pelvic floor problems
Cancer Rehabilitation Treatment
Your team of specialty caregivers will include doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, recreational therapists, dietitians, social workers and mental health professionals. All of them are knowledgeable in general rehabilitation as well as cancer rehabilitation. Here are the types of cancer rehabilitation we offer:
Prevention Oncology Rehabilitation
When a disability can be predicted, preventive rehabilitation may be prescribed. For example, physical therapists work pre-operatively with breast cancer patients to teach them lymphedema prevention and management techniques before they undergo surgery.
When impairment is not expected to be permanent, rehabilitation can restore you to your former level of functioning. For example, physical therapists help physically weakened cancer survivors regain strength and muscle mass.
When permanent impairment exists after cancer treatment, we help maximize function as much as possible. Orthotics and prosthetics may be recommended after surgical amputations. Physical and occupational therapy also helps with muscle strengthening, gait training and self-care. Social workers and neuropsychologists also may be involved in supportive rehabilitation.
Palliative rehabilitation provides supportive care and reduces complications that may develop as cancer progresses. Occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, dieticians and others may work with patients to help with mobility and positioning, swallowing, prevention of contractures and the use of adaptive equipment to assist with eating and self-care.
Inpatient Cancer Rehabilitation Program
In our Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Inpatient Program, we treat cancer survivors who have medically complex conditions. If you are recovering from cancer-related surgery or have severe deconditioning, we can provide rehabilitation care that will help restore you to an optimal level of functioning and well being. Your weakness may be due to the cancer or the result of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Conditions that we often see in the inpatient program include metastatic disease -- especially to the brain and spinal cord -- peripheral neuropathies, bowel and bladder dysfunction and other severe functional disabilities.
No matter the type of cancer, rehabilitation helps speed your recovery. We focus on helping you regain and maintain cognitive, emotional and physical functioning. We want your quality of your life to be the best it can be. And our care isn’t confined to just you. Your family and friends will receive support and education because we know that they, too, are significantly affected by your cancer and can be an important part of your recovery.
Outpatient Cancer Rehabilitation Program
Much like the inpatient program, the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Outpatient Therapy Center and our clinic programs help cancer survivors move forward with their lives. We have trained our clinicians to use rehabilitation techniques and modalities that will help you understand and deal with the side effects of cancer so you can normalize your activities at home and in the community.
Our outpatient programs create a path for cancer survivors to manage the physical, cognitive, or emotional impairments related to the impact of cancer and its treatment.
We understand it can be exhausting to attend multiple medical appointments. To respect your time and energy, we use block scheduling for your rehabilitation. We will schedule all of your therapies in either morning or afternoon sessions.
Following your evaluation, you’ll have the same therapists each time you come to Mary Free Bed. This continuity fosters solid relationships between you and your treatment team. And then we round out your rehabilitation with our leading-edge technology and specialized services.
Depending on what your doctor orders, the team may include:
Physiatrist (physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
Rehabilitation therapists (physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and recreational therapists)
Neuropsychologists and rehabilitation psychologists
Cancer Rehabilitation Technology
SMART Equitest for Balance Training
The SMART Equitest is a detailed, six-step process designed to identify balance and mobility impairments. Data accurately identifies and differentiates underlying sensory and motor impairments and enhances the ability to diagnose and treat problems of imbalance and postural instability, especially for those cancer survivors who previously proved difficult to diagnose.
This robot-assisted technology is designed to help patients regain their ability to walk. It uses a special treadmill equipped with robotic “legs” to help cancer survivors “remember” the pattern of walking again.
The Bioness helps with reaching, grasping, opening and closing of the hand. The device uses electrical stimulation to activate hand and forearm nerves to help cancer survivors get back to daily living.
Orthotics & Prosthetics
Mary Free Bed Orthotics & Prosthetics department provides care to cancer survivors who need orthotic, prosthetic, seating or adaptive equipment to help them improve function, optimize well being and restore independence and quality of life.
Specially designed and custom-fitted orthotic devices may be used to brace weak or ineffective joints or muscles. Custom-designed prosthetic devices may be fabricated to replace an extremity that was removed due to cancer. Prostheses are designed to provide both functional and cosmetic benefits.
Our Orthotics & Prosthetics department also has a Rehab Technology Center that provides assistive technology and communication services to meet your individual needs, as well as those of your family and caregivers. The Rehab Technology Center also includes OrthoSEAT, which provides high-quality, therapeutically designed seating components and other custom devices for those who may require the use of a wheelchair.
Dynavision™ 2000 Light Training Board
For cancer survivors with impaired visual and motor function, the Dynavision evaluates eye movements, eye/hand coordination and reaction times. It can assess reaction time and evaluate peripheral vision awareness, concentration and endurance.
Vision Coach is an interactive system used to treat visual impairment and enhance neuromuscular coordination skills. It also allows occupational therapists to address balance, coordination and upper extremity motor control deficits in a controlled environment.
Electronic calendars and planning apps provide visual and auditory cueing to promote independence. iPad applications also can help improve visual problem solving, processing speed, memory and concentration. In addition, the iPad can act as a voice/speech generating device.
The VFSS evaluation involves swallowing barium coated food and liquid while an x-ray records the process to determine if food is effectively moving from the mouth to the stomach and not entering the airway or lungs
FEES is a diagnostic swallowing evaluation that involves passing a flexible endoscope (a small camera with a light) through the nose to look at the upper part of the throat. The test helps to evaluate how safely and easily food and liquid travels through the throat and into the top part of the stomach. It also can help determine a source of pain, hoarseness or other throat problem.