What does cancer rehabilitation involve?
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 (Prehabilitation)
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, dietitians 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.
What is the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program?
Mary Free Bed is an entire hospital dedicated exclusively to providing leading-edge, comprehensive rehabilitation. Our cancer rehabilitation program is composed of rehabilitation professionals who have additional training helping patients recover from their cancer, its treatment or a combination of both.
Research shows rehabilitation helps you recover from the physical, cognitive and emotional aftermath of this disease. When you’ve completed the inpatient program, there are numerous outpatient programs and services available if you need them.
What kind of therapy will I receive in the Cancer Rehabilitation Program?
Your cancer rehabilitation team works with you to determine the right combination of therapy based on the stage of your cancer and rehabilitation goals. Most cancer patients receive both physical and occupational therapy. Additional specialized therapies are available as needed. Physical therapy focuses on your strength and flexibility while occupational therapy helps you perform everyday tasks such as personal care and household chores. Speech-language therapy targets things like problem solving, memory and voice.
What types of cancer patients do you treat in the rehab program?
The Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer rehabilitation program helps patients who are recovering from all types of cancer including but not limited to:
• Brain cancer
• Breast cancer
• Prostate cancer and other genitourinary cancers, such as testicular cancer and bladder cancer
• Lung cancer
• Colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers, such as gallbladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer
• Bone cancer
• Gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine/endometrial cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer
• Leukemia and lymphoma
• Multiple myeloma
• Kidney cancer
• Head and neck cancers
• Pediatric cancer
• Eye cancer
Just Ask for Mary and one of our nurse liaisons will explain our admission process to you and your family.
What can I expect from a normal day at Mary Free Bed?
Your typical day will depend on what your cancer rehabilitation team has decided is best for your recovery. We offer at least 3 hours of therapy daily, 5 or more days a week. It’s spaced over the entire day and includes targeted therapy to improve your strength and balance, thinking and communication skills and your ability to perform daily tasks and leisure activities.
Who will be helping me on a daily basis?
Your cancer rehabilitation team is led by a physiatrist (doctor who specializes in rehabilitation) and includes nurse practitioners, physician assistants, rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, a speech-language pathologist, a social worker and psychologists. You also may work with others like a recreation specialist or registered dietitian. This core group of professionals closely monitors your progress to help you meet your goals.
What side effects do you treat?
Sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s more challenging – the side effects of cancer or the treatments used to kill it. We help patients cope with a wide range of challenges including:
• Cognitive challenges (“chemobrain” or “chemofog” can leave you feeling forgetful, make it difficult to concentrate and generally cause you to feel out-of-sorts or unable to multitask)
• Decreased strength or range of motion
• Generalized weakness/de-conditioning
• Peripheral neuropathies (there can be numbness, tingling or pain in hands and feet)
Other problems that might be addressed during your rehabilitation include:
• Bowel and bladder management;
• Difficulty with walking and higher-level balance
• Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
• Nutritional/weight issues
• Pelvic floor problems
• Psychosocial distress
• Sleep/wake disturbances
• Swallowing problems
• Vocational challenges
Talk to your cancer rehabilitation team about any special concerns you have or problems you’d like to address during your hospitalization.
Where can I find reliable resources and additional information?
Your rehabilitation team can provide you with accurate information about your therapy and treatment. You may also download this list of reliable web sources if you wish to conduct further research about a particular cancer or related resources.
Click here to watch informative videos from our Cancer + Wellness series.