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10 reasons why you should have a physiotherapist help you recover better and live well after a cancer diagnosis!

Physio encouraging everyone to undertake Cancer Rehabilitation
Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapist Melissa Smith

1. Prevent unnecessary disability

The number of people living longer and surviving cancer is growing, however these people may be living with long-term side effects of the disease and treatment (both physical and emotional), which make them feel they haven’t ‘beaten’ cancer at all.    Side effects may be visible during or very soon after treatment, or they may take months and years to be seen. Many of these side effects can significantly affect quality of life. Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapists can help minimise the risk of short and long-term side effects and help prevent unnecessary disability.

2. Provide support for the whole patient, not just their cancer

The primary focus of oncology medical professionals is to eliminate or control disease by suppressing cancer cell growth (chemo, radiation) or directly removing the tumour (surgery). These treatments are increasingly successful but they also damage ‘normal’ tissue. While oncology specialists seek the best possible outcomes, i.e. the absence of any residual cancer – this does not mean genuine, meaningful recovery is complete. The Cancer Rehab Physiotherapists’ focus is on supporting the whole patient, not just addressing their cancer. 

3. Support effective self-management strategies

Physiotherapists have a very important educational role during and after cancer treatments to help people understand how they can help themselves. Cancer treatments are tough but are more manageable when people know what to expect and are given good advise on all the things they can do to maximise their own recovery. Ongoing education throughout cancer treatment is also vital to heighten the patient’s awareness of the potential late effects from treatment and to promote a proactive approach to their diagnosis and treatment. In addition, Physiotherapists work to reinforce health-promoting behaviours such as exercise, weight control and physical activity and help their patients take positive steps for their future health and wellbeing.

 4. Restore movement and function

Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapists are experts in restoring movement and function to people affected by cancer. However, it doesn't stop there. There is also strong evidence supporting rehabilitation and exercise not only help people physically but also emotionally, vocationally and socially. 

5. Help Manage fatigue, during and after treatment

Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapists are experienced in the management of fatigue during and after cancer treatment. It is very important to manage fatigue symptoms; to provide adequate support for people remaining at work as well as returning to work. There is also an abundance of evidence that regular moderate exercise can decrease feelings of tiredness, lack of energy and fatigue. During cancer treatment it is often possible to continue exercising if it is carefully prescribed by a Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapist.

6. Assist the psychological recovery

There is an emotional toll that cancer survivors face in addition to the physical one. A cancer diagnosis can cause depression, anger, anxiety, fear and stress. Proper breathing techniques, stretching, reassurance and education can help improve psychological recovery. 

7. Prevent further degeneration of health

If symptoms are not managed throughout treatment there is a greater risk a patient will have problems coping. The combined burden from treatments and lack of physical activity can cause de-conditioning, which can further exacerbate fatigue and lead to a longer road to recovery. Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapists can help patients overcome the significant physical and functional impairments suffered after cancer surgery and treatments that act as major barriers to resuming physical activity.

8. Assist, treat & support patients through every stage of their treatment & recovery

Opportunities for physiotherapists to screen for and treat impairments in cancer patients begin shortly after diagnosis and continue even years after the completion of cancer treatment. Our care continuum includes prehabilitation (interventions designed to increase function prior to surgery or treatment), rehabilitation during acute cancer care, rehabilitation after acute cancer care and rehabilitation of patients with cancer as a chronic condition.

9. Deliver safe and effective exercise programs

The thought of exercise can be overwhelming to people affected by cancer , but a well-designed exercise program may help them feel better physically and mentally, and it may also decrease the risk of further disease. Numerous studies show that being physically active appears to improve survival and quality of life. Patients are at increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, functional decline and cancer recurrence. 

10. Reduce and decelerate the impact of a range of symptoms

Physiotherapy rehabilitation services can help patients:

  • maintain their independence; 

  • increase their strength, range of motion, functional status, and physical activity levels;    

  • manage their fatigue, and pain;       

  • restore bowel and bladder function, and

  • help people return to work, sport and activities they love.

If you would like to know more about our Cancer Rehabilitation Services,

please get in touch!


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