Physical Therapist for Cancer
A cancer diagnosis of any sort is a life-changing occurrence that affected 1.5 million people in the United States in 2016 alone. The good news is that in most cases, cancer is treatable. As of 2014, an estimated 14.5 million Americans were living with cancer. After an initial diagnosis, myriad treatment options exist, including chemotherapy drugs, radiation and surgical interventions. Unfortunately, cancer and its treatment can have long-lasting effects even after a patient has achieved remission. Physical therapists are uniquely equipped to help patients restore function after cancer. Casey K. is a 26-year-old leukemia survivor who has been in remission for four years. Casey described her experience with physical therapy.
As a leukemia patient, my hospital stays were lengthy, she said. “For example, I was diagnosed and admitted to the hospital on the same day and did not leave until six weeks later. The treatment regimen was extremely harsh on my body, as if I was not already sick enough, so my physical conditioning went downhill pretty rapidly. “PT was ordered early on to try to lessen the extent of my condition. I believe I received PT every other day, if not every day. The PT would come to my room, and if I hadn’t been out of bed yet, that was always the number one priority. We did a lot of range of motion and some light exercises to try to maintain some strength.
The physical therapist encouraged me to get out of my room and walk around the floor as well. When I was in the hospital for my bone marrow transplant, I was not allowed to leave the room so the physical therapist brought an exercise bike to my room. Overall, the focus seemed to be on keeping me mobile and maintaining as much strength and endurance as possible. A few years after remission I still had some deficits. I was experiencing chronic pain, particularly in my ankles. I had been prescribed to some pretty strong pain medications to try to manage it, but I made a decision to be taken off of them as I wanted to return to school. I sought outpatient PT in hopes that something could be done.
The discovery that pointed I had poor ankle mobility and stability, likely due to the amount of time I spent in bed. The PT worked with me to strengthen my ankles and increase mobility, and ultimately, I did experience a reduction in pain and was able to return to running.