The Cancer Rehabilitation program at HCA Midwest health is a comprehensive interdisciplinary program developed to provide outpatient rehabilitation to all cancer patients and survivors in need, whether you are newly diagnosed or long finished with treatment.
Our goal is to improve daily function and quality of life for the cancer survivor. We create customized programs to address a wide range of symptoms and diagnoses for each type of cancer.
Our experienced team of therapists work with individuals to address rehabilitation needs for a variety of conditions including:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Decline in balance
- Joint stiffness
- Difficulty with walking
- Cognitive challenges such as chemobrain
- Numbness in feet or hands
- Scar tissue restriction
- Pelvic floor pain or dysfunction
Talk with your doctor about how rehabilitation therapies may benefit you, and to request a physician’s order.
Below you will find a list of therapies offered in our rehabilitation departments with information about what patient concerns the therapists may be able to help improve and how they may work with you on these problems. All of our therapists work 1 on 1 with patients to achieve their goals.
Your body uses lymph (a colorless fluid containing white blood cells) throughout your body to help fight infection. This fluid travels to lymph nodes where the fluid is filtered and sent throughout the body to collect more infection and bacteria. Lymphedema occurs when the body is unable to move lymph properly throughout your body and lymphatic fluid can build up in areas that have had trauma and/or lymph nodes removed. For patients who have received cancer treatments lymphatic fluid may build up in and around the treated areas.
The goal of therapy is to improve your swelling and to work together to identify a plan to effectively manage your swelling at home.
Studies show that lymphedema therapy can be effective in reducing swelling by up to 50-65% during treatment as well as decreasing the incidence of cellulitis with appropriate home management following therapy.
A lymphedema therapist can utilize specialized ‘hands on’ techniques as well as garments, wrapping, pumps and exercises to help reduce the amount of lymph that is accumulating. Specialized education is given by a therapist, typically a physical or occupational therapist with specialized lymphedema training.
*Lymphedema therapy services are covered by insurance; coverage of compression garments varies per insurance.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
Both men and women may experience disruptions in the normal function of the pelvic floor. Any patient that experiences surgery in the pelvic region, change in hormones, and/or radiation to the pelvic floor region may be at risk for pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic floor dysfunction may impact your bladder’s ability to store and void urine. Difficulty controlling bowels may occur. Both men and women may experience sexual dysfunction. Women may experience vaginal dryness and pain.
For men: common diagnoses that will experience pelvic floor side effects are prostate, testicular, penile and rectal cancer.
For women: Common diagnoses that may experience pelvic floor dysfunction are: uterine, ovarian, cervical, vaginal, vulvar, breast cancers.
Pelvic floor rehabilitation can significantly impact an individual’s continence control and sexual satisfaction. Treatments may include behavior therapy, exercises (learn to control pelvic muscles) and soft tissue mobilization of pelvic floor muscles.
A pelvic floor therapist is a specially trained physical or occupational therapist.
Fatigue is the most common complaint by patients during and after cancer treatments due to the high level of energy required by your body to fight cancer and to heal from treatments. Cancer treatments can also reduce sensation, endurance, strength and balance. Cancer treatments can result in painful skin, muscles, and nerves. There can be loss of range of motion of arms, legs and spine following treatment. Patients will frequently have undesired weight changes after cancer treatments and have difficulty returning to their previous roles due to these problems.
Physical therapy can use education, exercise, “hands on” techniques and other modalities to reduce the amount and intensity of fatigue, pain, weakness, imbalance, weight gain, dizziness, loss of range of motion (ROM) and endurance. A physical therapist will empower a patient to participate in and have control over their physical improvements as well as work with caregivers to keep patient as active as desired.
Patients undergoing cancer treatments may experience decreased ability to care for oneself and may experience difficulty with bathing, dressing, household duties and sleep.
Occupational therapy works to “…facilitate and enable an individual patient to achieve maximum functional performance, both physically and psychologically, in everyday living skills…” (Penfold, 1996).
An occupational therapist will assist a patient in maintaining functional range of motion, mobility, safety and strength. They will assist in energy conservation and patient empowerment. Occupational therapists will utilize exercise, education, splinting, bed positioning, caregiver education and wheelchair fitting and other assistive device fitting as necessary to allow patients to improve their ability to care for themselves and return to their prior roles as able.
Speech Language Pathology
Cancer treatments may impact your ability to communicate, swallow and/or impair your cognition.
A Speech language pathologist can help you improve your ability to clearly express yourself or comprehend what is being presented to you either through verbal or written means.
A Speech language pathologist may also work with you to improve your body’s ability to efficiently swallow without excessive difficulty. This ranges from manipulation of foods/liquids in your mouth to actually swallowing them without coughing, choking, or feeling as if something is still stuck in your throat.
A Speech language pathologist will work with you to improve your ability to process, organize, and remember information or activities as they relate to your daily life. This includes areas of attention, orientation, memory, problem solving, reasoning, organization, among others.
How to get Connected?
Our skilled rehabilitation therapists require a physician’s order. Your first appointment will be an evaluation to first establish your concerns as well as physical abilities and challenges. Upon establishing goals and plan for therapy the therapist will work with you to achieve your goals for improving your quality of life.
Cancer and treatments can cause fatigue, weakness, changes in body composition, emotional and social concerns as well as disrupt your important daily life roles. The wellness team strives to keep patients as active as possible to maintain strength and energy levels to maintain quality of life. The wellness team can assist in connecting you to resources within the HCA system and throughout the community. The wellness team has cancer exercise specialists and registered dieticians on staff to guide patients in a healthy lifestyle that complements your cancer treatments.
The Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health Wellness team is a free resource within each facility to assist patients in achieving wellness in all aspects of life from time of diagnosis and through survivorship. If your needs for physical strength and endurance cannot be adequately assisted by the Wellness team then skilled rehabilitation may be required and the Wellness team will work with your physician to refer you for formal therapy.