What’s Involved in Cancer Rehabilitation?

A rehabilitation program deals with diagnosis, treatment, speedy recovery and future prevention from a serious injury or illness. Generally, a cancer rehabilitation service involves several health care experts, resources and techniques that aid in physical and emotional recovery of the patient. An oncologist or care provider may coordinate with other rehabilitation professionals in an attempt to provide better care.

Generally, rehabilitation professionals work in a team to maximize and speed up your recovery. The members of the team may vary depending on the diagnosis, chosen treatment plan and other medical issues. Together they come with a customized plan for you in line with your goals, strengths and preferences. Participating in such a program can allow you to recover more quickly. As per the stats, cancer patients in Australia have the highest survival rate than any other country. A cancer rehab program can significantly increase your chances of survival.

Do you require rehabilitation services?

The following signs indicate that you may require cancer rehabilitation services, but make sure you discuss with your doctor before signing up for a program.

  • You feel weaker or more tired than you did at the time of diagnosis.
  • You find it difficult to talk and swallow.
  • You are experiencing pain, which has apparently nothing to do with your cancer.
  • You have muscle, joints or some kind of orthopaedic problems.
  • You find it hard to conduct routine tasks.
  • You don’t have much idea about which exercises to do and for how long.
  • You struggle in concentrating and remembering things.

Which services are included?

Cancer rehab services are offered by many hospitals and cancer centres. Talk to your health care team; they’ll find you a rehab centre, and also guide you about services that you require. Generally, the following services are included:

  • Patient and family education
  • Counselling
  • Pain treatment
  • Nutritional advice
  • Exercise programs aimed at building your strength, improving your mobility and increasing your fitness levels; exercise also helps with stress, anxiety and sleep.
  • Encouragement and guidance on quitting smoking and alcohol
  • Radiation therapy, offered by many organisations like Targeting Cancer
  • Help with routine activities such as eating, dressing, using a toilet, bathing and other routine tasks. Depending on your health condition, you may require quality rehabilitation equipment at your home; your personal doctor or oncologist would guide you about this.

Which professionals are on the cancer rehab team?

A team of healthcare experts is are on board for any cancer rehabilitation program, and help you adapt to your situation. These professionals include all or some of the following.

  • Oncologist – usually the team leader, who plans treatment
  • Rehabilitation specialist or physiatrist – treats your illness, injuries and pain
  • Rehabilitation nurse – helps you regain physical ability if your injury, illness or disability is prolonged; may provide counselling to you and your family
  • Physical therapist – helps you improve physical strength, and mobility
  • Dietician – suggests meal plans and monitors your body weight
  • Recreational therapist – reduces stress and depression through games, arts, music and other activities
  • Occupational therapist – helps you perform activities while ensuring your safety and comfort
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