The treatments needed to address cancer can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects. You may experience these symptoms during treatment or even years later. Fortunately, rehabilitation can often help.
At SoutheastHEALTH, we have a team of occupational, physical and speech therapists with specific training in oncology rehabilitation. Talk with your provider if you believe you would benefit from a referral to therapy.
Here are some of the oncology rehabilitation services we offer.
Oncology Speech Therapy
Oncology speech therapy may be recommended if you're having head or neck radiation, or if you experience symptoms such as:
Difficulty swallowing. Swallowing problems may include coughing, choking or throat clearing when drinking or eating; a wet, gurgly sounding voice during or after meals; a sensation of food being stuck in the throat; discomfort when eating; or a loss of food or liquid from the nose when eating.
Trouble swallowing properly could also result in other issues like weight loss, fever or pneumonia.
Impaired thinking. Thinking problems caused by cancer treatment could include unusual lapses in memory, difficulty concentrating, trouble multitasking, difficulty learning new things, taking longer than usual to finish tasks, trouble remembering words or a general feeling of mental fogginess.
General Oncology Rehabilitation
You might benefit from general oncology rehabilitation with one of our physical or occupational therapists if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Decreased reach or range of motion/movement of arms or legs
- Scar tissue sensitivity (to touch or clothing) or tightness
- Tight bands in your armpit when reaching overhead
- Tightness in muscles surrounding the chest area
- Fatigue or reduced activity tolerance compared to before cancer treatment
- Inability to do your normal daily activities or your preferred leisure activities
- Unsteadiness, trouble balancing or falling (or being afraid you're going to fall)
- Generalized weakness, such as trouble walking, getting up from a chair or getting out of a vehicle
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
A referral to a one of our oncology physical therapists may be warranted for pelvic floor rehab if you have any of the following symptoms:
Urinary incontinence or urinary urgency. Physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor and improve bladder control. Bladder training can help with bladder urgency.
Bowel incontinence. Physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control and coordination of the pelvic floor.
Constipation. Physical therapy can help improve coordination of the pelvic floor muscles in addition to addressing bowel mechanics and lifestyle modifications.
Pelvic pain. Pain my show up as constant or occasional discomfort in the lower abdominal, vaginal, anal, or tailbone region, and may occur during activities such as prolonged sitting or intercourse. Physical therapy can work on improving soft tissue mobility, scar mobility, and muscle coordination to improve pain levels.
Pelvic organ prolapse. Physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor and teach functional strategies to minimize stress to the pelvic floor.
If you've had lymph nodes removed and/or radiation therapy and have never received education about the lifelong risk of lymphedema development, you may benefit from a referral to one of our physical or occupational therapists.
Lymphedema rehabilitation may also be appropriate if you have symptoms such as:
- Visible swelling in arms, breast/chest, armpit, face, neck, legs, or genitals
- Feelings of heaviness, tightness, fullness or pain or a sensitivity to touch or clothing
- Tighter fitting clothing items like rings, watches, bracelets, bras, shirt sleeves, pants, socks or shoes
Learn more about lymphedema rehabilitation at SoutheastHEALTH.
Bone Health/Osteoporosis Rehabilitation
A referral to one of our physical therapists who specialize in bone health/osteoporosis rehab may be appropriate if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A noticeable loss in height from your "tallest" measurement.
- Increased curvature (bending forward) in your upper back.
- History of a compression fracture in the spine.
- A fracture that seemed to be caused by normal movement (not something traumatic like a major fall or car accident).
- A DEXA scan resulting in a T-score less than -1 to -2.4 (osteopenia) or -2.5 or less (osteoporosis).