At United Regional, rehabilitation services consist of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. These services are provided for patients on an inpatient and outpatient basis.
The goal of therapy is to maximize the patients’ level of independence and function within the limits of their disability or illness. As a result of the cancer or its various treatments, it is common for persons with cancer to experience weakness, fatigue, pain, immobility, and reduced flexibility. In addition, decreased balance, respiratory difficulties, incontinence, and swallowing and speech impairments may be problematic for cancer patients. Other areas for consideration may include neurological deficits, gait abnormalities, lymphedema, cognitive and perceptual deficits, and limb amputation.
The role of the physical therapist is to help restore functional loss through exercise, reconditioning, assessment of bracing and equipment needs, modalities for pain control, and other treatment options. The occupational therapist educates and assists in improving endurance, self-care skills, activities of daily living, and lymphedema management. The speech-language pathologist works to improve the patient’s speech and swallowing difficulties following head and neck cancer.
In addition to helping the patient, the patient’s family also benefits by learning how to assist them. The family is also instructed on proper safety techniques to protect themselves against injury.
Rehabilitation can help cancer patients to achieve functional independence, improve their quality of life, and maintain patient-valued skills.