Dr. Kim Marshall joins Dr. Karen Litzy, DPT to talk about oncology rehabilitation on the weekly Podcast Healthy Wealthy and Smart. Kim, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, is one of a handful of therapists in Orange County specializing in the rehabilitation of the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. In addition to becoming certified in the treatment of lymphedema, Kim completed the STAR training to address and treat other side effects of cancer including unspecified pain, neuropathy and fatigue.

In this episode, they discuss:

-The history of oncology rehabilitation and the role of physical therapists as a healthcare professional ally

-What is lymphedema and how can physical therapists learn to treat this condition

Common side effects of cancer treatment and the influence on a rehabilitation program

-Important components of patient education and an exercise program for oncology patients

-And so much more!

Direct access oncology patients may not always be aware of the need for specialized care. Kim believes, “We need to be a little bit more available to patients to make sure if we can’t treat them then we’re getting them in the right direction.”

Patient education is critical during the initial phases of cancer treatment. Potential side effects are best screened early on so they can be more easily managed throughout the treatment. Kim states it is important for patients to understand, “Unfortunately if you’ve undergone the treatment for cancer, you’re going to have a new normal.”

Physical therapists are well prepared to be a primary healthcare provider throughout the cancer treatment process, from preparing patients for treatments to supporting patients during treatment and recovery. Kim stresses, “I would be an advocate for finding somebody who you can go over your laundry list, we should be the healthcare providers that patients can come and complain to along with their concerns and fears.”

Kim encourages those interested in oncology rehabilitation to think about the added challenges of this field but also the potential for personal growth from treating this patient population. She shares, “It is really rewarding. There is something about the diagnosis of cancer and facing your own mortality. I always tell my patients I’m on the good end of this in terms of putting people back together. It’s challenging… Every patient is a little different in terms of symptoms and a little bit different in terms of where they are in their recovery.”

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