From Diagnosis, Through Treatment and Beyond
Beginning with diagnosis, breast cancer patients face many challenges, but there is good news. The evidence is growing that including a rehabilitation program from the start can be an important factor to improve mobility, function, and quality of life. In fact, through the whole process including long-term survivorship, a breast cancer rehabilitation program can make a big difference.
Research shows that various treatments can have both short and long-term side effects, some of which may not appear for many years. Because of this, having a health care provider that is educated on all the possible impairments, throughout your life, can be another resource. Focused on your wellbeing, our goal is to keep you as healthy and productive as possible. We will be with you every step of the way and beyond in a supportive environment.
Personalized Care and Clinical Expertise
Our personalized treatment plans can help decrease the side-effects from the treatment of breast cancer, and identify potential problems before they become critical. When needed, we are happy to collaborate with your physicians for coordinated care.
Kim Marshall, DPT, CLT is certified in oncology rehabilitation. She is a member of the oncology rehabilitation section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). With more than 15 years as a certified lymphedema specialist, she is among the first in California to have expanded her expertise to cancer rehabilitation and continues to expand her clinical skill and training in this growing field.
The Different Stages of Breast Cancer Rehabilitation
Whatever your course of treatment, before it begins, a comprehensive evaluation is suggested, which will accomplish the following goals:
1) Education – Much information is given from many different people during this time and it can be overwhelming. At a minimum, before treatment, establishing a relationship with a physical therapist can be comforting. By helping to explain what to expect and provide written information that can be reviewed later you will be better prepared on what to possibly expect and know how to get help.
2) Baseline Measurements – Having both a subjective and measurable overview of your function prior to treatment provides important information to monitor your health as you undergo treatment. This information is used to gauge changes or limitations. This in turn factors into a personalized rehabilitation program that will be designed to help restore you to pre-treatment function.
3) Pre-Habilitation – Depending on the timing of your surgery or treatment, a personalized pre-habilitation program can help prepare you by increasing strength and endurance. The research on this is clear. The stronger and healthier you are heading into treatment the easier time you may have.
Post Surgical/Treatment Phase
1) Rehabilitation for patients post surgery and/or those undergoing either chemotherapy or radiation is well established and fairly routine. Impairments such as lymphedema and shoulder mobility and pain are commonly referred to a physical therapist. As the field of oncology rehabilitation grows there are other impairments that can occur and for which there is help. You do not have to accept these limitations as a new normal. These conditions may include:
- Post-Mastectomy Pain Syndrome
- Scar Tissue Adhesions
- General Pain & Weakness
- Balance, Gait & Posture Problems
- Memory & Cognition
- Radiation Fibrosis Syndrome
- Brachial Plexopathy
- Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
- Difficulties with Daily Activities
- Difficulty Returning to Work
- Difficulty Returning to Social or Community Activities
2) Prospective Surveillance – Whether it is screening for lymphedema or other side effects from the treatment of cancer, an oncology rehabilitation specialist can keep an eye on you during treatment to quickly address any potential issues that impact your life. Whether it is through education or simply designing a home exercise program; having a relationship with a PT that is familiar with you, your physicians, and treatment plan can be a beneficial resource, especially if you feel something isn’t right.
Survivorship/Long Term Care
The great news is more women are living as breast cancer survivors. The medical community is recognizing the special health needs presented by this group. Even though you have successfully completed treatment, the evidence is showing there can be residual side effects or even long-term issues, especially as it relates to heart health, that may appear.
Toward that end, the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have undertaken a comprehensive education program to ensure there is proper screening and monitoring to identify and mitigate any risk factors arising from your treatment.
Physical Therapy and oncology rehabilitation have been identified as playing a key role in addressing these issues to reduce pain, increase function, and most importantly improve quality of life.
Whether you are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment or a long-time survivor we are help.