Cancer Rehabilitation Experts
Daniel C. Fechtner, MD
Dr. Fechtner joined Mary Free Bed as a full-time physiatrist in 2013. He previously worked at the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, which is the teaching hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Fechtner, a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School, focuses his practice on oncology rehabilitation, spasticity management, Parkinson’s disease and other neurologic conditions.
W. Christian VandenBerg, MD
Dr. VandenBerg is medical director of the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation program at Mary Free Bed. Board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, he’s been on the Mary Free Bed medical staff since 1989. Following graduation from medical school at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, Dr. VandenBerg completed a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago – the nation’s top rehabilitation hospital. Dr. VandenBerg is working with area cancer specialists, encouraging them to include rehabilitation early in the course of cancer treatment to improve functional outcomes and quality of life.
Lorraine (Lori) J. Pearl-Kraus, PhD, CS, FNP-BC
Dr. Pearl-Kraus joined Mary Free Bed in 2012 as Coordinator of the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program. A board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner, she has more than 30 years of advanced-nursing-practice clinical experience in the areas of oncology clinical research trials, neurosurgery/trauma and primary care. Dr. Pearl-Kraus also has taught graduate-level clinical and research courses for more than 20 years.
It’s difficult to come to terms with life-changing illnesses. Our neuropsychologists perform specialized testing to assess your emotional status, intelligence, education and vocational potential. They also counsel and support you and your family during your rehabilitation.
Neuropsychologists are psychologists with a doctorate degree who have additional specialty training. They focus on the relationships between your brain, your behavior and how you are thinking.
While much of the focus will be on physical rehabilitation, we’re also concerned about your emotional well-being. Your rehabilitation psychologist is available to help you and your family with the adjustment issues you’re likely to face. Depression, anxiety or related mood disorders may occur after a diagnosis of cancer. Your psychologist can help you and determine your need for medication.
Your nursing team includes registered nurses who have additional cancer rehabilitation and wound care certification, as well as nurse technicians. Whether it’s midday or the middle of the night, you can depend on them for assistance with:
• Your medical and personal care
• Questions about medical, vocational, educational and environmental needs
Occupational therapists focus on your fine motor skills and performing daily activities. They will:
• Evaluate and improve your upper-extremity strength, coordination and muscle tone
• Increase your level of independence by showing you new ways to do daily activities such as getting dressed and tending to personal hygiene
• Work with you to identify adaptive equipment that may be necessary. They’ll also arrange for equipment fabrication and training.
• Vocational issues and job coaching
Palliative Care Physicians
Palliative care physicians are integral members of the cancer rehabilitation team at Mary Free Bed. They are board-certified physicians who’ve obtained specialized training in palliative care. Palliative care physicians discuss patients’ values and how they want to proceed with their cancer journey. In Cancer Rehabilitation, palliative care also focuses on the relief of symptoms associated with patients’ cancer. Palliative care physicians help manage the other effects (e.g., psychosocial well-being) that the cancer illness is having on patients and their family members and friends. At Mary Free Bed, we have palliative care physician consultants who are available to provide inpatient and in-home care services to our patients and their families.
Your physical therapists will evaluate your needs after cancer treatment and provide rehabilitation to:
• Strengthen muscles
• Build endurance
• Improve flexibility and coordination
• Improve balance
• Improve quality of life
Therapists in this field build on what other therapists do and help you re-integrate into the community and day-to-day activities. Your recreation therapist:
• Identifies what activities you enjoyed before your injury or illness and creates a plan to help you do those activities again
• Will help you strengthen weak muscles or learn different movements to regain skills, modify existing leisure or recreational equipment or try a new piece of adapted equipment if necessary
• Takes you on outings to learn how to manage personal barriers, use public restrooms and cross streets
Our dietitians evaluate your nutritional needs, help you understand the importance of healthy eating and provide education about your specific needs. Members of the Nutrition Services staff can help you select menu items for your specific diet.
Mary Free Bed social workers have specialized training in counseling cancer rehabilitation patients. Social workers help with:
• Adjustment to your injury or illness
• Family education (they’re a liaison between your family and your treatment team)
• Quality of life counseling
• Coordination of plans to go home
• Grief counseling
With the goal of improving your communication skills, your speech therapists help you with:
• Cognition, learning and memory
• Language and speech proficiency
• Problem solving
• Voice and fluency
• Vocational concerns
Spiritual Care Coordinator
A hospital Spiritual Care Coordinator is available to meet with you and your family to address spiritual needs and may assist in arranging for services from a particular denomination if desired. Learn more about spiritual care and resources available at Mary Free Bed.